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American Airlines Pilot Union Calls for Flights to Israel to Be Stopped

'It is not prudent or appropriate to knowingly put our flight crews and passengers in harm’s way by maintaining flights into a war zone'

Pilots for American Airlines have called on the company to stop all flights to Israel after a weekend of violence.

American is one of several airlines that has elected to stop flights to the country in order to evaluate the risks now posed due to the conflict. 

The airline’s union president, Ed Sicher, said in an email that American Airlines pilots should not fly to Israel until officials “can be reasonably assured of the region’s safety and security.”

“It is not prudent or appropriate to knowingly put our flight crews and passengers in harm’s way by maintaining flights into a war zone,” Sicher wrote, per AP News.

The U.S. State Department said in its most recent security alert that its embassy in Israel “continues to closely monitor the dynamic security situation in the Gaza periphery (the areas of Israel near Gaza) and in Gaza.”

“There are active military operations in the Gaza periphery and Gaza, as well as rocket and mortar fire in the Gaza periphery,” wrote the embassy on Oct. 9. “The Erez crossing between Israel and Gaza is closed until further notice, and U.S. citizens in Gaza who wish to leave and can do so safely are advised to check the status of the Rafah Crossing into Egypt.”

Embassy personnel have been directed to observe a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. and are “urged to stay as close to home as possible outside the curfew hours.”

The State Department has described the conflict in Israel as “unpredictable” and warned that “mortar and rocket fire may take place without warning.”

“U.S. government personnel are prohibited from personal travel to the West Bank until further notice,” wrote the embassy.

Several major airlines – including United, Delta, and Air Canada – have all announced that flights to and from the Tel Aviv area have been suspended.

“Due to the ongoing conflict situation in the region, between Israel and Gaza based extremist militants, operators are advised to review current security, threat information and NOTAMS,” states a travel alert from the Israeli Civil Aviation Authority on Oct. 7, per CBS News. Pilots were advised to “exercise caution.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country is now at war after a series of Hamas-led attacks on Oct. 7, the final day of the Jewish holiday Sukkot. Hamas gunmen were reported in at least 22 locations outside the Gaza Strip resulting in hours of gunfire and at least two hostage standoffs, per PBS News Hour

Several hundred deaths have been reported in both Israel and Palestine. 

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article referred to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu as “President.”

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