WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Aviation Administration has lifted its ban on U.S. flights in and out of Israel, which the agency had imposed out of concern for the risk of planes being hit by Hamas rockets.
The decision was effective at 11:45 p.m. EDT Wednesday.
"Before making this decision, the FAA worked with its U.S. government counterparts to assess the security situation in Israel and carefully reviewed both significant new information and measures the government of Israel is taking to mitigate potential risks to civil aviation," the FAA said. "The agency will continue to closely monitor the very fluid situation around Ben Gurion Airport and will take additional actions as necessary."
The FAA instituted a 24-hour prohibition Tuesday in response to a rocket strike that landed about a mile from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv. The directive, which was extended Wednesday, applied only to U.S. carriers.
The FAA has no authority over foreign airlines operating in Israel, although the European Aviation Safety Agency late Tuesday said it "strongly recommends" that airlines refrain from operating flights to and from Tel Aviv. Some European carriers, including Air France and Lufthansa, extended flight cancelations through Thursday.
The FAA's flight ban was criticized by the Israeli government and by Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who questioned whether President Barack Obama used a federal agency to impose an economic boycott on Israel.
Delta Air Lines, which diverted a jumbo jet away from Tel Aviv before Tuesday's ban by the FAA, will not necessarily resume flights to Israel even if U.S. authorities declare the area safe, the airline's CEO said before the FAA lifted the ban.
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