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Israel's Eilat Port to lay off half of its staff

March 20, 2024 at 2:54 pm

A picture shows the empty Red Sea shore in the southern Israeli resort city of Eilat on 17 April 2020 [MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP via Getty Images]

Half the workers at Israel’s Eilat Port are at risk of losing their jobs after the seaport took a major financial hit due to the crisis in Red Sea shipping lanes, Reuters reported officials saying today.

Eilat sits on a northern tip of the Red Sea and was one of the first ports to be affected as shipping firms rerouted vessels to avoid attacks on Israel-linked vessel by the Houthis in Yemen.

Port management has announced it intends to fire half of the 120 employees. In response, dock workers held a protest today.

Eilat, which primarily handles car imports and potash exports coming from the Dead Sea, pales in size compared to Israel’s Mediterranean ports in Haifa and Ashdod, which handle nearly all the country’s trade.

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But Eilat, which sits adjacent to Jordan’s only coastal access point at Aqaba, offers Israel a gateway to the East without the need to navigate the Suez Canal.

Eilat Port CEO Gideon Golber said the move was the final option after months of losses and inactivity.

“I hoped the coalition countries would have solved the issue in a few months,” Golber said, referring to a US-led multi-national initiative set up in December and which has targeted the Houthis. “But they are not solving the problem.”

Ships, he said, are still not docking in Eilat. And unless the government intervenes to help pay salaries, the layoffs are inevitable. The remaining workforce can maintain minimum operations, he said.