Heavy Shroud of Haze Blankets Israel

All domestic air travel halted as the cloud of wayward Saharan Desert dust obscuring Israeli skies is expected to disappear on Monday.

Domestic air travel in Israel was at a complete halt Monday, as a heavy shroud of haze continued to blanket much of the country.

The dust turned the daytime sky into a bleak dusky yellow, reducing buildings and views into faint outlines. The dust-bowl effect was due to a cloud of Saharan Desert dust being carried over to the Levant on southwest winds through Egypt and Libya, according to the Meteo Tech weather service.

On Sunday, airports in Tel Aviv and Haifa were both closed down at around 11:00 A.M. due to the unusual conditions, with flights from Eilat scheduled to land at Sde Dov being rerouted to Ben-Gurion Airport. Eilat and the Uvda airport in the south were also closed Monday due to poor visibility and haze.

Weather conditions around the airports in the south are not expected to improve until Monday evening, while Sde Dov Airport may reopen Monday afternoon if the weather improves.

Arkia and Israir airlines canceled all their flights to southern and northern Israeli airports Monday, affecting some 2,000 Arkia customer and 600 Israir passengers.

International flights in and out of Eilat were not affected, despite the closure of the airport at Uvda. However, there were no international flights planned Monday in or out of the airport in any case.

The Health Ministry recommended that children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with respiratory conditions avoid the outdoors as much as possible for the duration of the dusty onslaught.

The haze is expected to gradually lift until it disappears completely on Monday.