Hamas calls ban on flights to Israel a ‘great victory’ as U.S. extends restrictions

The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday extended a ban on U.S. airline flights to Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport by an additional 24 hours. The agency halted all flights from the U.S. to Tel Aviv yesterday after a rocket strike near the airport and international airlines followed suit as the day carried on. Hamas called the suspension of international flights to and from Israel over security concerns about Gaza rocket fire a “great victory” as Israeli officials and the diaspora of pro-Israel supporters protested and characterized the ban as an overreach and, in the words of one Israeli minister, “a prize” for terrorism. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg protested the F.A.A. ban by hopping a flight to Tel Aviv on El Al, Israel’s national airline, which has continued flying amidst the conflict.

The success of Hamas in closing Israeli airspace is a great victory for the resistance, and is the crown of Israel’s failure.

Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas spokesman

Hamas on Wednesday also rejected a ceasefire to end 16 days of deadly fighting with Israel unless the blockade on the Gaza Strip is lifted, its chief Khaled Meshaal said in Doha. Lifting the eight-year blockade is a main demand of Hamas which also wants the opening of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt and Israel to free prisoners.