Airlines ban flights to Israel after rocket strike

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Israeli police officers secure a destroyed house that was hit by a rocket fired by Palestinians militants from Gaza, in Yahud, central Israel, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Israel has said its campaign, launched July 8, is aimed at stopping Hamas rocket fire into Israel — some 2,000 rockets have been launched over the past two weeks, the military says — and destroying tunnels the military says Hamas has constructed from Gaza into Israel for attacks against Israelis. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)

Israeli police officers secure a destroyed house that was hit by a rocket fired by Palestinians militants from Gaza, in Yahud, central Israel, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Israel has said its campaign, launched July 8, is aimed at stopping Hamas rocket fire into Israel — some 2,000 rockets have been launched over the past two weeks, the military says — and destroying tunnels the military says Hamas has constructed from Gaza into Israel for attacks against Israelis. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)

A destroyed house that was hit by a rocket fired by Palestinians militants from Gaza, in Yahud, central Israel, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Israel has said its campaign, launched July 8, is aimed at stopping Hamas rocket fire into Israel — some 2,000 rockets have been launched over the past two weeks, the military says — and destroying tunnels the military says Hamas has constructed from Gaza into Israel for attacks against Israelis. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)

Mourners gather around the bodies of seven members of the Kelani family, killed overnight by an Israeli strike in Gaza City, during their funeral in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, on Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Ibrahim Kelani, 53, his wife Taghreed and their five children, were killed in the strike on a Gaza City highrise. Ibrahim’s brother Saleh Kelani said Tuesday that his brother and his brother’s children, ranging in age from four to 12, had German citizenship, while his wife had not. The family had rented the apartment in the high-rise after fleeing their home in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya which came under heavy shelling by the Israeli army. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

A relative bursts into tears as mourners try to comfort him as they gather around the bodies of seven members of the Kelani family, killed overnight by an Israeli strike in Gaza City, during their funeral in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, on Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Ibrahim Kelani, 53, his wife Taghreed and their five children, were killed in the strike on a Gaza City high rise. Ibrahim’s brother Saleh Kelani said Tuesday that his brother and his brother’s children, ranging in age from four to 12, had German citizenship, while his wife had not. The family had rented the apartment in the high-rise after fleeing their home in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya which came under heavy shelling by the Israeli army. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

An Israeli man wears a T-shirt with the Golani brigade unit symbol during the funeral of Sgt. Sean Mondshane, at a cemetery in Tel Aviv, Israeli, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Mondshane, who served in the Golani brigade, was killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip on Sunday. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

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JERUSALEM (AP) — A Hamas rocket exploded Tuesday near Israel’s main airport, prompting a ban on flights from the U.S. and many from Europe and Canada as aviation authorities responded to the shock of seeing a civilian jetliner shot down over Ukraine.

Israel declared that Ben-Gurion Airport was safe and said there was no reason to “hand terror a prize” by halting flights.

The rare flight ban came as Israel grappled with news that a soldier went missing after an attack in the Gaza Strip, raising the possibility he was abducted, a scenario that could complicate intense diplomatic efforts to end the two-week conflict.

Palestinian militants have fired more than 2,000 rockets toward Israel since fighting began on July 8, but most — including several heading toward Tel Aviv — fell harmlessly into open areas or were shot out of the sky by the “Iron Dome” defense system, keeping Israeli casualties low.

Tuesday’s rocket attack was the closest to the airport so far, said police spokeswoman Luba Samri, and largely destroyed a house, slightly injuring one Israeli in the nearby Tel Aviv suburb of Yehud.

Aviation authorities reacted swiftly. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration prohibited American airlines from flying to Tel Aviv for 24 hours “due to the potentially hazardous situation created by the armed conflict in Israel and Gaza.” Later, the European Aviation Safety Agency issued an advisory to airlines saying it “strongly recommends” airlines avoid the airport.

Germany’s Lufthansa, Air France, Air Canada, Alitalia, Dutch KLM, Britain’s easyJet, Turkish Airlines and Greece’s Aegean Airlines were among those carriers canceling flights to Tel Aviv over safety concerns amid the increasing violence.

Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz called on the U.S. aviation authority to reconsider, calling the flight ban “unnecessary” and saying Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system provided cover for civil aviation.

“Ben-Gurion Airport is safe and completely guarded and there is no reason whatsoever that American companies would stop their flights and hand terror a prize,” his office said in a statement.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised the issue of the ban with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who was in the Middle East on Tuesday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

“The FAA’s notice was issued to protect American citizens and American carriers. The only consideration in issuing the notice was the safety and security of our citizens,” Psaki said in a statement. “

International airlines and passengers have grown more anxious about safety since last week, when a Malaysia Airlines jet was shot down over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. While Hamas rockets aren’t guided missiles, they still can cause massive damage to an aircraft. For instance, unguided mortar fire in Tripoli from a militia battling

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