As some of you might know, I am soon to leave for a 10-week stay in Tel Aviv, and plan to blog (more) regularly once I arrive. I've done so in the past when I've been in Israel, and intend to do so this extended visit again.
Looking at today's (Friday) Yediot Aharonot newspaper, I couldn't help but notice an article about new in-flight regulations which the Israeli Ministry of Transportation is asking of all airline companies flying into Israel. Israel is requiring that all passengers, as well as flight crews, be buckled into their seats as soon as planes get within 180 miles of the Israeli coast -- approximately 30 minutes before touchdown. This is approximately the point when planes come under Israeli air control, and will give Israeli controllers an opportunity to review passenger lists one last time before the planes are vectored into final approach. It will also secure the plane far enough away from the Israeli coast so that if a late "event" were to oocur inside the plane, there will be sufficient time to scramble interceptors for a response. These new regulations (formerly the buckle-down was required for the final 15 minutes of flight), are being issued in the aftermath of the killing of Hizbollah terrorist operative Imad Mughniyeh last week in Damascus, and the ensuing promise by Hizbollah leader Shaykh Nasrallah to engage in "open warfare" against Zionist targets worldwide.
This new policy directive is not unlike the old special flight rules which the US Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) issued for all flights going into Reagan National airport near Washington, DC in the wake of 9/11, which were suspended in the summer of 2005.
I'll be flying through Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, an airport that to my mind maintains extremely high security, especially for Israel-bound flights, so I am not concerned. Schiphol requires every passenger to go through a thorough face-to-face questioning before entering the gate area, as well as the standard metal detectors and baggage x-ray. So while this news item caught my eye, I've decided to go have fun in Amsterdam as planned, and then make sure I've got no need to get up in those last 30 minutes of the KLM flight. ;)