In light of the escalating conflict in the region, two of Turkey’s major airlines, Turkish Airlines (THY) and Pegasus Airlines, announced the suspension of their flight services to Israel.
The decision comes as Israel intensifies its airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, marking the third consecutive day of such actions.
Yahya Ustun, THY’s Senior Vice President of Media Relations, confirmed the suspension, stating, “Due to the current situation in Israel, our flights have been suspended until further notice.” This move by Turkish Airlines is in line with several other airlines that have either suspended or significantly reduced their services to Israel.
Pegasus Airlines also released a statement regarding the suspension of their Israel flights, citing the ongoing situation in the region. For passengers who purchased tickets on or before 7 October 2023 for flights scheduled between 7 October and 31 October 2023 to or from Israel, Pegasus Airlines is offering several options. Passengers can opt to change their tickets to an open ticket without any charges, obtain a full refund, or reschedule their flight dates free of charge. These changes and refunds can be processed through the Pegasus Airlines website or their mobile app. For the latest updates on flight schedules and other related announcements, passengers are advised to check the announcements page on the Pegasus Airlines website.
The recent surge in violence was triggered by a multi-front attack by Hamas on Israeli towns located near the Gaza Strip. Hamas has stated that this attack was a retaliation to Israeli infringements at the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in occupied East Jerusalem and the increasing violence from settlers.
In response, Israel launched a series of airstrikes on the Gaza Strip and established a complete blockade on the territory, which is home to approximately 2.3 million residents. On Tuesday, the Israeli army reported that it had targeted over 100 sites in Gaza. They also claimed to have neutralized four Palestinian gunmen attempting to breach Israel near the Zikim area, adjacent to Gaza.
Further exacerbating the situation, Israeli forces targeted Palestinian fishing boats at the Gaza Port, resulting in several boats catching fire. In a significant development, the Israeli army reported the elimination of Juad Abu Smallah, the economy minister of Hamas, during an airstrike in Khan Younis, located in Gaza.
Hamas confirmed the loss of two of its officials due to Israeli attacks in Gaza. In retaliation, the group launched a barrage of rockets targeting central cities in Israel, including Ashkelon, Tel Aviv, Beersheba, and Rishon LeZion. In a statement, Hamas revealed that the rocket attacks on Ashkelon were a direct response to the displacement of civilians in Gaza. They also claimed responsibility for firing rockets aimed at the Ben Gurion Airport.
The ongoing conflict has resulted in a tragic loss of life, with over 1,800 casualties reported since Saturday. This includes more than 1,000 Israelis. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his determination to dismantle Hamas’ capabilities, stating his intent to “take revenge for this black day.”