It is a horrible decision, with no basis in actual danger to the airplanes that fly in and out of Israel. The decision empowers Hamas, and leaves Israel alone to help her people once more.
Here are several facts that everyone should know:
1) After 10 days living under Iron Dome we learned quickly last week what every Israeli knows: most missiles are not a threat, and are allowed by Israel to hit the ground. The Iron Dome technology immediately tracks the incoming missile, and projects very accurately where it will land. If it is not landing in a populous location, it is ignored. If it is headed toward an important target, like the airport, it is destroyed by the Iron Dome missile. 86% accuracy on intercepts has kept Israel, and the airport safe through this incessant barrage.
2) Of 2,000 missiles launched, less than a half dozen have been anywhere near the vicinity of the airport (meaning within 3 miles), and NONE have ever entered the past present or future flight path of any airplane going or coming from Israel.
3) The Hamas missiles are "dumb" bombs. They have no tracking or guidance. They are basically large fireworks tubes with an explosive head. They can only hurt what they actually run into. They are not "aimed," but "pointed" - up and north, for example. The odds of a 4 ft. long dumb missile on a South-North trajectory hitting an airplane coming or going from the Mediterranean on an East-West trajectory are nearly zero. Astronomically small. Bird strikes and turbulence baffles are much more common and much more dangerous.
4) The Hamas missiles are weak. Their payload can blow up a studio apartment, but not a whole building. When landing on the ground, they cause a hole about 2 feet deep, and send shrapnel flying. They can not significantly harm the runway or buildings of the airport. Even a direct hit is almost purely symbolic.
5) The FAA is making a false link to the Malaysian flight. The FAA announcement linked their decision to heightened concern after a Malaysian civilian airplane was shot down over the Ukraine last week, killing everyone on board. Are you kidding me?!. There is NO analogy. The Malaysian plane was targeted with sophisticated Russian military grade Surface-to-Air missiles, with full navigational controls and targeting capabilities. Hamas missiles are surface-to-surface "dumb"missiles fired from over 40 miles away. The two have nothing to do with each other.
6) El Al continues to fly. So do a majority of airlines that service Ben Gurion airport. This FAA ruling was a leadership move by the U.S., which other airlines and countries then followed. Why would the U.S. do this?
6) Is Secretary of State John Kerry is looking for leverage with Israel? I am sure that the FAA made this decision, but that doesn't mean it can't be used in the larger context. As long as Iron Dome is working, and Israel can continue business as usual under its protection, there is no reason for Prime Minister Netanyahu to do anything but charge ahead against Hamas and its tunnel and missile infrastructure. Shutting down U.S. flights to Israel supports the Hamas agenda and puts pressure on Israel.
7) Israel must respond as it always has: take matters into its own hands. Already El Al has increased its flights, and reached out to those stranded in Paris and elsewhere. Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg flew back and forth on El Al yesterday just to make the point:
The Jewish State's airline stands ready to bring you home, when nobody else will.After all, isn't that the whole point behind Israel, anyways? Isn't that the founding ethos of the Jewish State at its core?
Hopefully the FAA bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. will grow a backbone, listen to the military analysis, and lift the ban. There is NO reasonable assessment of danger at Ben Gurion, and NO reason to continue the ban.
After all, John Kerry flew in and out of Israel in the last two days... why can't we?