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Virgin Atlantic announces it will resume flights to Israel

Virgin Atlantic has announced it will resume flights between London Heathrow and Israel after it suspended them after the beginning of the conflict with Hamas.

From 5 September it will operate a daily flight in each direction.

Many carriers suspended flights to Israel in October last year after Hamas militants rampaged across the border with Gaza, sparking the nearly eight-month war.

Wizz Air resumed operations in March, with British Airways doing the same in April.

But easyJet has extended its suspension of flights to Israel until at least late October.

Virgin Atlantic also announced a new codeshare partnership with Israel’s El Al, aimed at making it easier for the airlines’ customers to travel with both carriers.

Juha Jarvinen, Virgin Atlantic’s chief commercial officer, said: “Our return to Tel Aviv on 5 September will be welcome news for customers who have enjoyed our service since 2019, and this time round it’ll be strengthened by our new codeshare partnership with El Al.”

Anti-government protests in Tel Aviv

It comes after tens of thousands of protesters rallied in Tel Aviv over the weekend to call for the resignation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the immediate release of hostages.

An estimated 120,000 people took to the streets to call on the governing coalition to accept a ceasefire deal outlined by US President Joe Biden on Friday, in what was believed to have been the largest demonstration against Mr Netanyahu’s government.

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Thousands demand Netanyahu’s resignation

The deal would involve the staggered release of hostages captured during Hamas’s 7 October attack on Israel in return for the gradual withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza.

Read more:
Is it safe to travel to Middle East holiday destinations amid tensions?
Israeli man who went missing during Hamas attack found dead
What is the ceasefire deal and how would it work?

Israel is expanding its offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah amid growing criticism over the huge cost in civilian lives and destruction caused by its nearly eight-month war with Hamas.

Elsewhere, the Maldives has said it will ban the entry of Israelis amid public anger in the predominantly Muslim archipelago over the war in Gaza.

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