Israel closes northern civilian airspace

Move comes after Israel deploys Iron Dome batteries in North.

Arkia airplane 370 (photo credit: reuters)
Arkia airplane 370
(photo credit: reuters)
Israel decided Sunday afternoon to close its airspace in the North to civilian air traffic following alleged Israeli air strikes on Syria in the past 48 hours.
Israeli airline Arkia stated that "due to IDF instructions on the closure of airspace in the North until May 9, Arkia is forced to announce the cancellation of interior flights from Haifa to Eilat."
The closure of Israel's airspace in the North came after the IDF deployed two Iron Dome batteries in northern cities due to tensions with Syria following the alleged IAF air strikes.
The IDF stated that the northern civilian airspace is being managed jointly by the IAF and civil authorities, in accordance with the latest evaluations.
In recent days, one Iron Dome battery has been stationed in Haifa, while another has been placed in Safed, a senior defense source said. The source stressed that "this is not the first time that the systems have been deployed to the North."
The IDF took similar action in the days before the January 30 air strike - also attributed to the IAF by foreign media - on a weapons convoy in Syria heading for Hezbollah in Lebanon carrying advanced anti-aircraft weapons.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made no mention at a public appearance on Sunday of alleged Israeli air strikes on Syria in recent days but spoke pointedly about a commitment to keeping Israel secure.
"(My father) taught me that the greatest responsibility we have is to ensure Israel's security and guarantee its future," he said, dedicating a highway interchange named after his late father, Benzion Netanyahu, a historian who died a year ago.
Kiryat Shmona Mayor Nissim Malka told Channel 2 on Sunday public bomb shelters in the city would not be opened in order to avoid fear-mongering.
Meanwhile, Iran condemned an Israeli attack on Syria and urged countries in the region to stand against the action, the Fars news agency reported on Sunday.
Israel carried out its second air strike in days on Syria early on Sunday, a Western intelligence source said, in an attack that shook Damascus with a series of powerful blasts and drove columns of fire into the night sky.
Israel declined to comment, but Syria accused the Jewish state of carrying out a raid on a military facility just north of the capital.
Reuters contributed to this report.