European nations decide not to allow stop-overs of Israeli arms flights

September 5, 2006 1:05 AM IMEMC & Agencies Diplomacy, International, News Report 0

After its 34-day war with Lebanon, in which Israeli forces killed an
estimated 1,000 civilians, the Israeli government has been taking a
good deal of criticism internationally.  One of the methods used to
challenge Israeli aggression is an air blockade on Israeli arms flights
by most European nations implemented Monday.

The nations refusing airport access to Israel include Britain, Germany and Italy, nations that had been considered Israeli allies.

According to Captain Etai Regev, the head of the pilot's union of the Israeli airline, El Al, "Planes are not being given approval by European states to make stopover landings for refueling, for political reasons.

"As a result, cargo planes are taking off from the U.S. with much lighter weight, and are reaching Israel with significantly fewer munitions than needed."

Regev called this "a substantial blow to state defense."

The air blockade comes in the midst of an ongoing air blockade imposed unilaterally by Israel over the entire nation of Lebanon, in violation of the August 13th ceasefire agreement, Lebanese sovereignty, and international law.

In late July, at the height of the war, airplanes filled with weapons from the U.S. on their way to Israel were refused stopovers at Glasgow International Airport in Scotland, and were forced to re-route to London's Heathrow Airport.

The refusal came from states considered friendly with Israel, including Britain, Germany and Italy, according to Captain Etai Regev, the chairman of El Al's pilots' union.

Regev sent a letter of complaint on the matter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and to the Defense Ministry, the Finance Ministry, and the Tourism Ministry.

According to Regev, El Al flights bearing heavy loads that arrive from U.S. bases "are not given approval by European states to make stopover landings for refueling, for political reasons.

"As a result, cargo planes are taking off from the U.S. with much lighter weight, and are reaching Israel with significantly fewer munitions than needed."

Regev called this "a substantial blow to state defense."

In his letter, Regev complained about the government's decision last month to allow Italy's flag carrier, Alitalia, to fly Israeli state employees abroad for the first time.

"Israel's response to this is the transfer of labor to Italian pilots at the cost of Israeli pilots," he wrote.

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