Israeli airline El Al to fly on Sabbath for first time in 4 decades

October 12, 2023

The Israeli airline El Al said Thursday it would fly during this weekend’s Sabbath for the first time in more than 40 years, in service to the country’s war against Hamas. 

El Al said in a statement it had received the necessary religious authorization to fly from New York and Bangkok. It plans to operate two free flights for reservists, medical teams and members of security forces, and the flights will be financed in part by the airline and large financial institutions in the United States.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have called up some 300,000 reservists for its war against Hamas, which the Israeli government officially declared on Sunday, one day after the terrorist organization’s massive surprise attack on Israel.

El Al’s announcement came the same day that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was visiting Tel Aviv, during which he reiterated the United States’ unwavering support for Israel, telling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a joint address, “We will always be there by your side.”  

Already the first tranche of U.S. munitions was delivered to an Israeli airbase Tuesday evening, and the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group has deployed to the eastern Mediterranean. According to Blinken, it’s the “world’s largest aircraft carrier group.”

However, any monetary aid to Israel is stuck in a holding pattern while Congress remains hamstrung in the aftermath of last week’s ousting of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) from the Speaker’s seat, and House Republicans struggle to unite behind a nominee to replace him.

As of Thursday, the death toll from the conflict stood at 2,600, including 1,300 Israelis and 1,385 Palestinians.

Twenty-five Americans have also been reported among the dead while 17 remain unaccounted for.

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