A little-mentioned aspect of the military offensive that Israel is currently waging against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is that the occupation state's energy production sector is now within range of the rockets fired by resistance groups from the besieged territory. The sector generates millions of dollars for the Israeli treasury and could even face threats from rockets fired by Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Israel's gas production platforms in the eastern Mediterranean have been a magnet for foreign investors, including the UAE, who may be reconsidering their investment in the light of current events. This has taken on extra importance given that the Iron Dome missile defence system, which is meant to protect the platforms, has not been as effective as originally claimed by Israel. Resistance missiles have hit Tel Aviv, Ashkelon, Ben Gurion Airport and other sensitive sites.
Indeed, last Wednesday, the Palestinian resistance factions announced that they had targeted an Israeli gas facility in the Mediterranean in one of its rocket barrages, but no further details were provided. It emerged later that they had fired dozens of rockets at the Tamar natural gas platform located off the coast of Haifa. The platform had been shut down and emptied of fuel, according to the Times of Israel on Sunday.
This was followed by an announcement from the US energy giant Chevron on the same day that it would stop its operations in the Tamar field at the request of the Israeli Ministry of Energy. The move followed reports that the Palestinian factions were targeting the natural gas field, in which Chevron owns 39.66 per cent. The UAE's sovereign wealth fund owns 22 per cent of the shares.
These developments coincided with the Israeli economy incurring heavy losses in the energy sector after the closure of gas production fields off the coast of Gaza. Work on the oil pipeline linking Eilat and Ashkelon has also been suspended. Oil from the UAE is pumped through the pipeline, which has been targeted by resistance missiles.
Israel is relying on this pipeline to provide oil exporters with an alternative to the Suez Canal. Missile attacks are, therefore, a gain for Egypt and a loss for the UAE which financed the supply route.
While there has been a news blackout about the results of the missile strike on the Tamar field, attempts may now be made to target other natural gas production fields, including Leviathan, Daniel, Karish, Sarah, Mira and Mari-B. This would threaten the production agreements and supply contracts for Israeli gas exports, which would affect Egypt and Jordan. Instead of the energy sector being a natural gold mine for the Israeli government, at this moment in time it has become a burden.
This article first appeared in Arabic in Al-Araby Al-Jadeed on 18 May 2021
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.