Flight from Eilat lands at Ben Gurion airport amid rocket barrage from Gaza

Passengers watch in awe — and fear — as plane touches down amid Iron Dome interceptions on Friday; no casualties in missile attack on center of country

A plane lands at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport amid a rocket barrage from Gaza, December 8, 2023 (Screenshot, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
A plane lands at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport amid a rocket barrage from Gaza, December 8, 2023 (Screenshot, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

An Arkia Airlines flight from Eilat landed safely at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport on Friday, as a barrage of rockets fired by Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip on the center of the country flew by.

As shocked passengers watched the Iron Dome missile defense system in action through the plane windows, sirens wailed in towns and cities surrounding the international airport, including Kfar Chabad, Or Yehuda and Rishon Lezion, alerting residents on the ground to take shelter.

Tel Aviv, Rehovot and Bat Yam were also targeted in the missile attack. There were no casualties in the barrage.

Unlike fighter jets, passenger airplanes aren’t able to move quickly enough to dodge missiles, retired Air Force commander Eitan Ben Eliyahu told Channel 12 news on Saturday.

Instead, he explained, pilots can fire up the engines and climb to a higher altitude in order to land on a different runway, or even a different airport if fuel allows.

“There is some risk, but it’s relatively low,” Ben Eliyahu added.

Videos filmed on cellphones from the window of the Embraer airliner showed the Iron Dome interceptions, along with expressions of fear and awe from passengers.

Dozens of major airlines have canceled flights to and from Tel Aviv since Hamas’s October 7 massacre and the ensuing war in Gaza, which erupted after some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel, killing some 1,200 people and seizing over 240 hostages of all ages under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities.

Over 10,000 rockets and mortars, as well as dozens of drones, have been launched at Israel since then, according to the IDF, though the pace of attacks has been gradually slowing as Israel’s offensive in Gaza progresses.

Israel has vowed to eliminate the entire terror group, which rules the Strip, and says its offensive is aimed at destroying Hamas’s military and governance capabilities.

The IDF believes Hamas is stockpiling rockets for a long war, but also that the terror group is also having difficulty launching attacks from northern Gaza, where the Israeli military has gained control over large swaths of territory.

Airport authorities have not stopped commercial air links with Israel’s second international airport at Eilat, a tourist destination on the Red Sea that has come under missile and drone attack from Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Israeli flag carrier El Al has maintained its Tel Aviv flights, though some of its flights operated by foreign partners have been canceled.

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