Arkia, Israel’s Domestic Airline, Suspends Mail Flights to Town of Eilat

Arkia, Israel’s domestic airline, has suspended the carriage of mail to the town of Eilat on the Gulf of Aqaba until it is satisfied that adequate security measures have been taken against possible sabotage. The airline acted apparently after consultations with Israeli internal security services but the mail ban took postal authorities by surprise. Arrangements were made to ship the Eilat mail by truck. Internal air freight and passenger flights were not affected by the ban. The Israeli public learned of it in a terse radio announcement which was not repeated on later news casts. There was no official explanation. But sources here speculated that internal security agents may have warned Arkia after spotting a potential weak link in the domestic postal service or may have learned of a plot to blow up a plane.

The Knesset legislative committee meanwhile is preparing a draft law that would put air piracy in the same category as piracy at sea. Under the law, anyone suspected of air crimes against Israel’s airlines or aviation centers anywhere in the world would be tried in Israeli courts under Israeli law, even though the act was committed abroad. The draft law reportedly proposes a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for air pirates. But in the long run, Israel is depending upon vigorous international action by governments and civil aviation authorities to end what has been described as a wave of terror against commercial aviation.

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