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TUI cancels all flights to Israel until December

09:25 19/10/2023

TUI airline has announced that it will cancel all flights from Belgium and the Netherlands to Israel as a result of the violent conflict currently taking place there.

Flights to Israel from both countries are cancelled until at least the end of the year.

TUI had planned flights between Antwerp and Tel Aviv from 14 December but no decision has yet been made regarding that route, the airline says.

The long-standing conflict between Israel and Hamas ramped up again around 7 October, which initially prompted TUI to then suspend flights for two weeks. That period is now being extended.

Brussels Airlines also announced the cancellation of all its scheduled flights to and from Tel Aviv until at least 22 October, saying the decision was made due to “the ongoing situation in Israel and after extensive analysis of the situation”.

In the meantime, an uncertain number of Belgians remain stranded in Israel. Though the exact number is not yet known, there are around 10,000 Belgians with dual nationality currently in Israel and at least 180 Belgian tourists.

The Belgian foreign affairs ministry initially planned to charter a Brussels Airlines plane to repatriate anyone wanting to leave, but due to security reasons this will now be done via military flights.

At least 60 requests for repatriation have already been registered, but the count is expected to rise.

Belgium has released at least €2 million in humanitarian aid to Palestinians through the United Nations humanitarian fund since the latest eruption of violence.

Minister for development cooperation Caroline Gennez reiterated a call for humanitarian aid to be allowed through to the population stranded in the Gaza Strip, and called for the opening of the crossing point with Egypt.

Belgium is the second largest contributor to the United Nations fund for the Palestinian territories - giving €10 million in 2023 and 2024.

“Humanitarian needs in the region will grow exponentially over the coming hours, days and weeks,” Gennez said. “International solidarity will be needed to meet them.”

United Nations aid workers say supplies of water, food and fuel are running out in Gaza, while a massive population movement is under way from the north to the south of the Palestinian enclave.

Written by Helen Lyons