Bloomberg to travel to Israel on El Al

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El Al planes. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
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Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg is heading to Israel Tuesday night, flying on El Al in a show of unity with the Jewish state while U.S. and European airlines are canceling flights amid deadly fighting in Gaza.

"This evening I will be flying on El Al to Tel Aviv to show solidarity with the Israeli people and to demonstrate that it is safe to fly in and out of Israel," Bloomberg said in a prepared statement emailed by former City Hall spokesman Marc La Vorgna shortly after 8 p.m.

"Ben Gurion is the best protected airport in the world and El Al flights have been regularly flying in and out of it safely," Bloomberg continued. "The U.S. flight restrictions are a mistake that hands Hamas an undeserved victory and should be lifted immediately. I strongly urge the FAA to reverse course and permit US airlines to fly to Israel."

Bloomberg will be accompanied by one aide and, during his brief stay, plans to meet with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, La Vorgna said.

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Delta Air Lines rerouted one of its jets mid-flight and canceled future air travel between the U.S. and Israel after a rocket fired from Gaza landed near Ben Gurion Airport, according to published reports.

The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a 24-hour ban on flights to Israel.

Several European airline enterprises also canceled flights.

Bloomberg, who is Jewish, has long been a strong defender of Israel.

He citied the country while serving as mayor and vociferously defended it against international criticism at various points during his 12-year tenure. 

His successor, Bill de Blasio, is on a family vacation in Italy this week.

De Blasio has voiced unequivocal support for Israel. He recently said he does not have immediate plans to travel there.