Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A way out?

From what I can tell Hamas' rockets don't have any real targeting system. So I doubt if they can shoot a plane out of the sky. But because its probably untargetted rockets have shown they can reach Ben Gurion Airport, the FAA has banned U.S. airlines from landing in Israel. Immediately after that move, Delta and U.S. Airways canceled their Israel-bound flights.

The FAA ban is only supposed to last for 24 hours. But I'm not sure what the agency thinks will be different 24 hours from now to make the airport less dangerous. If the ban is extended beyond tomorrow that will put some pressure on Israel to find a way to end this conflict. U.S. travelers would still be able to reach Israel, they just would need to switch planes in Europe to get there. If the EU aviation authorities--or even if just a few critical European airlines also impose a flight ban--that will put a whole lot of pressure on Israel to end the conflict, even if it means making concessions to Hamas that it rejected when it rejected Hamas' ceasefire proposal.

I wonder if the FAA's move is influenced by what happened last week in Ukraine. Hamas doesn't seem to have anything like the SA-11 Buk missile system. But that tragedy in Eastern Europe might have just gotten aviation authorities thinking more about the wisdom of flying passenger airplanes into war zones.