British Airways suspends all flights to Tel Aviv after flight turns back amid Hamas airstrikes

11 October 2023, 15:54 | Updated: 11 October 2023, 17:39

A BA flight has turned around
A BA flight has turned around. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

British Airways has suspended all of its flights to Tel Aviv after a flight was forced to turn back for security reasons when Hamas fired rockets close to the Israeli city.

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Israel said that the missiles fired on Wednesday did not come close to the airport.

The flight, which set off from London, got as far as northern Israel before turning back.

Suspending flights to Tel Aviv after the incident, British Airways said: "Following the latest assessment of the situation we're suspending our flights to and from Tel Aviv.

"We're contacting customers booked to travel to or from Tel Aviv to apologise for the inconvenience and offer options including a full refund and rebooking with another airline or with British Airways at a later date.

"We continue to monitor the situation in the region closely."

BA had been one of the few airlines still operating flights to and from Israel amid the fighting.

A video purportedly filmed in Ben-Gurion Airport appears to show passengers ducking for cover amid shelling.

Read more: Foreign secretary James Cleverly forced to run for cover after Hamas rocket alarms set off in Israel

Read more: Gaza will become a 'tent city': Israel masses 300,000 troops for invasion as it issues chilling warning to Hamas

Other carriers such easyJet and Wizz Air suspended flights to and from Tel Aviv after the Hamas attacks on Saturday.

Virgin Atlantic is continuing to operate flights between Heathrow and Tel Aviv.

It comes as Israel is preparing to send 300,000 soldiers in to Gaza as the country's force prepare to wipe out Hamas's ability to wreak more horror.

The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) have been pummelling the densely populated strip since the terror group massacred towns and villages and kidnapped civilians.

Israeli soldiers sit atop Merkava tanks positioned in the upper Galilee in northern Israel near the border with Lebanon
Israeli soldiers sit atop Merkava tanks positioned in the upper Galilee in northern Israel near the border with Lebanon. Picture: Getty

Its air strikes precede what is expected to be massive ground invasion of the area, which contains two million people, after Benjamin Netanyahu called up reservists.

"We're contacting customers booked to travel to or from Tel Aviv to apologise for the inconvenience and offer options including a full refund and rebooking with another airline or with British Airways at a later date.

"We continue to monitor the situation in the region closely."

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City
Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City. Picture: Alamy

Armoured vehicles including tanks are poised to go in, and artillery is also massing at the border as part of Operation Iron Swords.

Jonathan Conricus, a spokesman for the IDF, said the military is preparing "to execute the mission we have been given by the Israeli government… to make sure that Hamas, at the end of this war, won't have any military capabilities by which they can threaten or kill Israeli civilians".

But any battles in the dense urban environment - much of which is made up of homes built over places that once housed refugees fleeing their former homes in what is now Israel - is expected to be fierce.

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