Israeli carriers El Al Israel Airlines, Israir, and Arkia Israeli Airlines have been conducting rescue flights for Israelis stranded abroad, as international airlines cancel flights to the country as a precaution against rockets fired from Gaza.

El Al said in a statement to local media that it would “work to keep air routes to and from Israel open, even amidst the security threats, in all situations in which it is possible to fly.” It was ready, it stressed, to operate additional aircraft to make up for shortfalls from foreign carriers.

American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Lufthansa, Air France, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Iberia, and British Airways are among the airlines that have put their flights to Tel Aviv Ben Gurion on hold. Ethiopian Airlines and flydubai continued to operate, the newspaper Haaretz reported.

Palestinian militants have shelled the Tel Aviv area repeatedly since the conflict erupted on May 10, prompting Israel’s main airport to reroute some flights to Eilat Ramon, about 200 kilometres away in the country’s far south. Ramon is connected by bus routes to the north.

Even there, however, the airport briefly suspended operations on May 13 after a rocket exploded north of its jurisdiction, in a desert area far from any settlement.

The military wing of the Palestinian organisation Hamas said in a statement that it had launched a new kind of rocket, Ayyash 250, whose range could reach anywhere in Israeli territory. Since then, however, Israel has unleashed waves of heavy airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, saying it had destroyed much of the military infrastructure there.

According to Israeli officials, the two airports in Tel Aviv and Eilat have been operating in sync, with Ben Gurion handling cargo, private, and several other flights, and Ramon open for arrivals of most international commercial flights as well as scheduled domestic flights.

Local media reported on May 16 that most flights arriving on schedule were being diverted from Ben Gurion to Ramon, while all departing flights would continue to depart from Tel Aviv. According to El Al, this would increase safety by minimising the concentration of passenger aircraft on the ground in any one place.