South Fla. teen visits Israel amid travel worries

Daniel Waxman, 16, says Israel 'completely safe'

By Liane Morejon - Reporter

BAL HARBOUR, Fla. - A South Florida teenager is visiting Israel with a group of students and said he can't understand why the Federal Aviation Administration would ban travel to Tel Aviv.

"It's completely safe," said Daniel Waxman, a 16-year-old student from Bal Harbour who's studying at Alexander Muss High School in Israel. "Not only for me to be here, but for my parents to come in on flights -- for everyone to come in on flights. I personally don't think they should have banned flights."

On Tuesday, a rocket from Gaza landed less than one mile from Israel's Ben Gurion Airport. The FAA responded by prohibiting U.S. airlines from flying into or out of the airport, a measure the agency hasn't enacted in more than 20 years.

"I also feel safe knowing that the iron dome and the other defense systems in Israel can stop all the missiles," said Waxman.

But Israel's seemingly invincible iron dome defense system failed to intercept Tuesday's rocket.

The move to ban flights from Israel's main airport is a sign of caution about flying near combat zones, heightened by the downing of Malaysia Flight 17 over Ukraine last week.

Still, two major figures in the U.S. chose to defy the FAA. First, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg boarded a flight on Israeli airline El Al Tuesday night to Israel.

"Sure, I'll take the flight," said Bloomberg. "It's safe and it's efficient, and it's a great way to travel."

Then Secretary of State John Kerry traveled from Cairo and arrived overnight in Tel Aviv.

"We have certainly made some steps forward," said Kerry. "And there is still work to be done."

As Wax and his classmates prepare for their final six days in Israel, he said both they and the Israelis remain calm.

"It seems perfectly safe here that they (Israelis) don't really talk about it often," said Waxman. "It's not the first thing on their mind. It's probably not even the fifth thing on their mind. It's daily life."

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