Many US and European airlines announced that they suspend flights to Israel’s main airport for security reasons after a rocket fired from Gaza struck about a mile from its runways. This announcement has caused great concerns in Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to mediate.
A number of European airlines as well as Turkish Airlines suspended flights following an advisory issued by the European Aviation Safety Agency saying that they “strongly recommend airspace users to refrain from operating to and from Tel Aviv Ben Gurion International Airport”.
However, the Minister of Transport of Israel argued that there is “no reason” airlines to suspend flights to Israel, as the spokesman of Civil Aviation Authority of Israel mentioned transferring his statements.
Delta Air Lines and American Airlines were the first companies that announced that they suspended their service to and from the international airport of Tel Aviv, followed by United Airlines, US Airways, Lufthansa, KLM, Air France, Brussels Airlines, EasyJet, Air Canada and Cyprus Airways.
In the meantime, about 1,000 Palestinians from Gaza in an attempt to escape from Israeli bombing found shelter in a Greek Orthodox church of the 12th century. Besides, about 1,400 Orthodox Christians, Catholics and Protestants live among 1.8 million Muslims in Gaza.
The Archbishop Alexios, the head of Gaza’s Greek Orthodox minority, stated that: “We have opened the church in order to help people. This is the duty of the church and we are doing all we can to help them,”.
“At the beginning there were 600 people and today they became a thousand – mostly children and women. Some of those children are a week old,” he said adding that “The mosque nearby and the neighbours of the church are all helping. We are still in need of mattresses, blankets, food and most important is petrol, as we suffer blackouts. If there is no electricity we cannot have water also,”.
Refugees who fled from Shejaia in the eastern part of Gaza and found a shelter at the church said that they did not know where else they could go now.
“We have left our houses and came here and they bombed the church. Where should we go? Let them tell us where we should go,” insisted Jawaher Sukkar, who left from Shejaia with her children.