DENVER - As U.S.-based airlines cancel flights to and from Tel Aviv, Israel, a Denver man finds himself stuck in Newark, New Jersey.
Simon Schwartz departed Denver early Tuesday morning, only to arrive in Newark to discover his United Airlines flight was cancelled. The Federal Aviation Administration issued the directive Tuesday, prohibiting flights for the next 24 hours.
Earlier in the day, a Hamas rocket exploded near the Ben-Gurion Airport in Israel and damaged a home in the Tel Aviv suburb of Yehud. That prompted 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.
Palestinian militants have fired more than 2,000 rockets toward Israel since fighting began on July 8, according to the Associated Press.
"Your flight connecting flight from Newark to Tel Aviv has been cancelled. Please talk to a gate agent,” said Schwartz, describing the alert he received upon arrival.
Late Tuesday an Israeli official called the FAA order "unfortunate."
"We hope that the FAA will reconsider its decision after we gave the FAA a very thorough analysis of why we believe that Ben Gurion is a safe and secure airport," said Giora Romm of the Israel Civil Aviation Authority.
Schwartz is booked for another flight on Wednesday. He's lived in Israel and knows life moves forward, despite the images of violence.
"If I received a text message stating get your bags ready, we're flying you out tonight to Israel, I'd be on the next van to the airport heading home," he said.
Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz called on the FAA 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.
The Tel Aviv airport is Israel's main gateway to the world and Hamas militants have said they hoped to target it to disrupt life in Israel, the Associated Press reported.