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Israel gives green light for civilian aircraft to overfly occupied West Bank

Image of Ben Gurion International Airport in Israel [lleewu/Flickr]
Ben Gurion International Airport in Israel [lleewu/Flickr]

The Israel Airports Authority (IAA) has opened a new flight path to Ben Gurion International Airport which sees civilian aircraft flying at low altitude over the outskirts of Ramallah and other West Bank cities, reports Haaretz.

This new route could expose aircraft to ground fire as they pass over the West Bank and poses a “security risk”, but despite this, the new route was approved by the Israeli army. A former high-ranking official at Israel’s Civil Aviation Authority acknowledged the risk but said that in the event of a plane being fired on while using this flight path, the “gates of hell” would be opened against the Palestinians in the occupied territory.

A few weeks ago, Israel accused Russia of interfering with GPS systems in its airspace. Russia has rejected the allegations and called them “fake news”. Nevertheless, following reports of aircraft losing signals to their GPS near Ben Gurion Airport, the IAA was forced to stress that “measures are in place to allow safe landings and take offs” at the airport despite the disruption.

Israeli officials also had to stop flights using the former route that avoided overflying the West Bank. They installed a new system that enables aircraft to land when pilots have no visual contact with the runway.

Relations between Israel and Russia are strained, with the former’s “unofficial” interference in the Syrian civil war and regular air strikes on Iranian positions in Syria increasing tensions between Moscow and Tel Aviv.

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