Rockets intercepted over central Israel after FAA ban ends
JERUSALEM — The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted five rockets over central Israel hours after the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority lifted its ban on American carriers flying to Israel.
A barrage of rockets was fired from Gaza at cities in central Israel on Thursday morning. A rocket was intercepted over Petach Tikvah, two rockets were intercepted over Bat Yam and two more were intercepted over Tel Aviv.
Shrapnel from the rockets was discovered on major highways in Tel Aviv after the interceptions, according to reports.
The FAA had banned flights to Israel on Monday, after a rocket fired from Gaza struck a house in the central Israeli town of Yehud, located about a mile from Ben-Gurion International Airport. The ban was lifted late Tuesday night.
A US Airways’ representative in Israel told Ha'aretz Thursday morning that the airline will begin flying to and from Ben-Gurion Airport on Friday. Other U.S. airlines have not yet indicated if and when they will restart flights.
A notice on the Delta website continued to read as of Thursday morning: “Delta has suspended service until further notice to and from Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv (TLV) and its New York-JFK hub.”
Meanwhile, the Obama administration asked the U.S. Congress to fast-track Israel’s request for an additional $225 million for the Iron Dome system.
The administration cited Israeli needs arising from the Gaza war in pressing for the extra funding.
“The Government of Israel has requested $225 million in additional funding for Iron Dome in order to accelerate production of Iron Dome components in Israel and maintain adequate stockpiles,” Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, told JTA in an email.
“The Department of Defence has reviewed and supports this urgent request,” she said. “Since the start of Operation Protective Edge, Iron Dome has saved countless Israeli lives.”
In a meeting Wednesday of Democratic senators and Jewish leaders, some of the senators said they had already started the procedure to include the new money in this year’s appropriations.
A day earlier, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel wrote to leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate asking that the money be appropriated above the $351 million Congress is considering for the system.
Israeli officials have estimated that Iron Dome has had an 86 percent rate in intercepting rockets fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip since the July 8 launch of Israel’s campaign against Hamas.