| 29 November 2023, Wednesday |

Israel’s Ashdod port toils under shadow of rockets

At Israel’s Port of Ashdod, workers immediately cease operations when wailing sirens alert them to impending missiles from Gaza. They rapidly restart work when the all clear is given, which is usually provided minutes later.

Although it’s an uncommon method for a port to remain open, in times of conflict it’s the only option to keep supplies flowing.

After Hamas militants swept through Israeli communities from Gaza on October 7, killing 1,400 people and taking over 220 captives in the deadliest attack on civilians in Israeli history, Israel promised to destroy the militant group.

A combination of practice drills, protective shelters and an Iron Dome air defence battery nearby have meant the government-owned port, which is 40 km (30 miles) from Gaza, can minimise any supply chain disruptions amid concerns over tightening supplies for the home front.

The entire port is dotted with protective shelters and the waiting time for staff under protection is around 10 minutes to ensure that even after a rocket falls there is no risk of falling shrapnel, port foreman Yigal Ben Kalifa told Reuters.

“After that, everyone gets back to work,” he said looking on as ships unloaded.

“The Port of Ashdod is the artery of Israel’s economy and we are doing everything to ensure this won’t be damaged.”

While the port, which accounts for 40% of Israel’s total seabourne trade including imports and exports, has not had any direct rocket strikes so far it has taken an economic hit in recent weeks.

  • Reuters