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BA plane u-turns from Tel Aviv after flights are suspended

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British Airways has suspended flights to Israel after turning back one of its planes shortly before landing, due to security concerns.

Flight BA165 has returned to Heathrow after nearly reaching Tel Aviv on Wednesday, BA said.

A spokesperson for Israel’s airports authority said rockets were flying around Tel Aviv at the time but were not an immediate threat to the flight.

Virgin Atlantic also suspended flights to the city on Wednesday.

A BA spokesman said safety was the airline’s “highest priority”.

As flight BA165 was approaching Tel Aviv, air raid sirens went off in the city. British Airways teams were made aware of this and asked the captain to turn around and return to the UK.

“Following the latest assessment of the situation, we’re suspending our flights to and from Tel Aviv,” BA said.

“We’re contacting customers booked to travel to or from Tel Aviv to apologise for the inconvenience and offer options including a full refund and rebooking with another airline or with British Airways at a later date.

“We continue to monitor the situation in the region closely.”

Since Palestinian militant group Hamas attacked Israel on Saturday, many international airlines have suspended flights to and from Tel Aviv, and securing flight bookings has become increasingly difficult.

 

For example, the first non-stop single flight available on El Al from Tel Aviv to Luton was on Friday 20 October, priced at $366 (£297).

On Tuesday, one travel agent said he been “inundated” with calls from people trying to get flights back to the UK.

EasyJet, Ryanair, Wizz Air, Air France, Lufthansa and Emirates have all suspended flights.

No evacuation
The UK government has not provided an estimate on how many UK citizens are in Israel, and no evacuation is currently planned.

However, the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) has advised people to register their presence to share updates “including information to support you to leave the country”.

The government department advises against all but essential travel to Israel, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Gaza and other parts of the region.

Travel insurance may not be valid if people travel against FCDO advice.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said that while the UK government has a duty to support its citizens, “the situation here is a bit different because a lot of the Brits are dual nationals and regard Israel as their home”.

“We will work closely with the Israeli government to provide support, if needed,” he said. “We are working with the aviation industry and on border crossings. We are also in talks with Egypt on any Britons in Gaza.”

Foreign

3 teens arrested in Germany for allegedly plotting terror attack

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German authorities have arrested three teenagers aged 15 and 16 on suspicion of plotting a deadly Islamist terrorist attack in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, prosecutors said on Friday.

The state’s Central Office for the Prosecution of Terrorism (ZenTer NRW) sought an arrest warrant for the teenagers over the Easter holiday.

They were suspected of plotting a terrorist attack in accordance with the aims and ideology of (extremist militia organisation) Islamic State.

The detained suspects are a 15-year-old girl from Dusseldorf, a 16-year-old girl from the Märkischer Kreis district and a 15-year-old boy from the Soest district, located about 100 kilometres to the east of Dusseldorf.

A fourth suspect has reportedly been identified in the south-western German state of Baden-Württemberg, and the local court there has issued an arrest warrant.

According to the investigators, the teenagers are accused of having agreed to commit murder and manslaughter.

This is in conjunction with the preparation of a serious act of violence endangering the state.

 

The presumption of innocence applied in all stages of the proceedings.

Security sources told newsmen that the young people had formed a chat group, but had not drawn up a concrete attack plan for a particular time and place.

However, sources said the cities of Dortmund, Dusseldorf and Cologne were discussed as targets, and attacks with knives and Molotov cocktails on people in churches or police officers in police stations had been considered.

The sources said authorities had also conducted searches as part of the investigation.

A machete and a dagger were seized in Dusseldorf, but no evidence of the construction of incendiary devices was discovered.

Sources said the father of the Dusseldorf suspect had already attracted attention from authorities in the past because he had allegedly collected donations for the Islamic State.

The investigators declined to reveal how the suspected terrorists were tracked down, but said that foreign intelligence agencies “did not play a role.”

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Putin Registers As Candidate For Russia’s Next Presidential Election

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Russia on Monday officially recognised Vladimir Putin as a candidate for the presidential elections in March, a vote that he is all but certain to win.

The 71-year-old has led Russia since the turn of the century, winning four presidential ballots and briefly serving as prime minister in a system where opposition has become virtually non-existent.

The Central Election Commission said it had registered Putin, who nominated himself, as well as right-wing firebrand and Putin-loyalist Leonid Slutsky as candidates for the vote.

The election will be held over a three-day period from March 15 to 17, a move that Kremlin critics have argued makes guaranteeing transparency more difficult.

 

Following a controversial constitutional reform in 2020, Putin could stay in power until at least 2036.

Rights groups say that previous elections have been marred by irregularities and that independent observers are likely to be barred from monitoring the vote.

While Putin is not expected to face any real competition, liberal challenger Boris Nadezhdin has passed the threshold of signatures to be registered as a candidate.

However, it is still unclear if he will be allowed to run, and the Kremlin has said it does not consider him to be a serious rival.

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