The air pollution that enveloped Israel for the second day in a row on Wednesday, September 9, is the worst that the country has suffered in 15 years. More than 550 people have been hospitalized nationwide since the beginning of the massive sandstorm, and all internal flights of Arkia and Israir were cancelled. Elsewhere in the region, the poor visibility forced the Syrian air force to temporarily suspend its operations against rebel groups. The sandstorm has darkened the skies over Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Cyprus, causing major disruptions in air traffic throughout the Middle East. More than 15 people have died and thousands have been hospitalized since the beginning of the storm, which originated in the Saudi Arabian desert.