By Amir Zohar
In April 2006, an architectural firm headed by Dr. Gil Har Gil and Dafna
Grinstein was informed that it was being awarded the Azrieli Prize for Urban
Planning, for the restoration of Ben-Gurion Avenue in the German Colony of
Haifa. Barely two months later, a challenging new commission, accompanied
by the offer of a high fee, arrived in the office of the landscape architects high
on Mount Carmel: planning the Israel Navy's new port in Haifa's Bat Galim
area. The project bore an impressive name from the realm of mathematics: a
"When the plans were presented to us, we blanched at the spatial
implications," Grinstein recalls. "We discovered a very large structure,
narrow, long and high, and around it buildings on dried sea areas. They
wanted us to plan the whole complex opposite Ben-Gurion Avenue. When we
found out the purpose of the central structure, which is a bit secret, we realized
that our design considerations, as architects of the German Colony and as
concerned Haifans, were not the only considerations. We tried to bring about a
substantive change of location, but found that we had no chance of exerting
any influence, so we dropped the project. Landscape architecture is a
profession of principles, and it is important for us to maintain red lines: our
decision about whether to accept a commission is based on values, not just on
the financial aspect."
Armed with the information about the new navy port, Har Gil and Grinstein -
whose exhibition on 60 years of landscape architecture in Israel has just
opened at the Zezeze Architecture Gallery in Tel Aviv - hurried to the office of
the Haifa city engineer, Ariel Waterman. Waterman was not surprised at the
plans to expand the military port, as the municipality was then in the midst of
negotiations with the navy and the Interior Ministry about the establishment of
a military anchorage west of the existing base. But he was appalled by the
scale of the planned central structure - the navy had not given him that
Waterman briefed the mayor, Yona Yahav, and asked the Israel Defense
Forces (IDF) for clarifications. The navy quickly overcame its embarrassment
and presented new sketches. These now contained several structures not in the
previous plan, but they were blurred. Furious, Waterman demanded more
precision and more detail. Only then were the vast dimensions of the
polynomial revealed, though most of the plans remained shrouded in mystery.
"Polynomial" is a term from algebra. According to Webster's Collegiate
Dictionary, it refers to "a mathematical expression of one or more algebraic
terms each of which consists of a constant multiplied by one or more variables
raised to a nonnegative integral power." The borrowing of the algebraic term
is suggestive of the complexity of the project. Maybe that is why the navy and
the Haifa Municipality have put out a variety of descriptions concerning its
planned exterior, all of which, nevertheless, have one element in common:
north of the present naval base, a new breakwater will be built and 520
dunams (130 acres) of the sea will be dried out. The nearby training base, with
all its buildings and facilities, will be moved to the new site; warships will
anchor at the new dock; and close by, other buildings will be erected for the
crews of navy vessels, for the shipyard and the administrative staff. The
polynomial will be built in the inner harbor - a structure 150 meters long, 25
meters high and with a roof area of about 12 dunams (three acres). It will be a
sophisticated facility for the maintenance of naval craft, including advanced
submarines and other vessels that are being built for the navy abroad.
"The polynomial is an anchorage for future vessels that the navy will receive,"
a senior naval officer explains. "The large central structure, namely the
polynomial, is intended to provide cover for operational activity of surface
vessels and submarines, which require an additional infrastructure for their
maintenance. Following the criticism of its size, it was lowered and is now
only 21 meters high. It was also moved 85 meters to the west, so it will not
affect the view from the German Colony."
This conversation, in which three navy representatives participated, took place
last week in Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv. It was intended to
provide a first public response ahead of the public discussion of the project.
The navy officers also sought to rebut what they say are exaggerated
simulations of the project that have been posted on the Internet, as well as to
respond to renderings prepared for the Haifa Municipality by Prof. Yigal
Tzamir from the Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning in the Technion,
which are here being made public for the first time. According to the navy
sources, "Tzamir's renderings may be correctly marketed, in terms of the
flecked colors and the black buildings, but they are not accurate."
But a perusal of the renderings shown to Haaretz by the navy, which are being
made public here for the first time, shows that the differences are not great. In
fact, the military renderings continue the obfuscation trend. Beyond the
question of whether the view to the north from the German Colony will be
degraded, the new base is going to change the shoreline where Mount Carmel
meets the sea. The new structures, to be built on a large area of what is
presently the sea, will be highly visible from all the city neighborhoods that
have a sea view.
"This story will cast a giant shadow over the shoreline that has been imprinted
in our minds all our lives," says the rector of the University of Haifa, Prof.
Yossi Ben-Artzi, from the Department of Land of Israel Studies.
Underlying the architectural ambiguity is operational secrecy having to do with
the new craft that the navy will acquire. In the second half of the 1990s, the
navy received three Dolphin-class submarines that were built in Germany. In
June 2002, Haaretz quoted a Washington Post report stating that "Israel has
acquired three diesel submarines that it is arming with newly designed cruise
missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads." According to a book published
at the time by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Israel could
"have a deployment at sea of one nuclear-armed submarine at all times."
Since then, contacts with Germany continued for the purchase of two more
submarines, and last July, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert authorized their
acquisition, at a price of $400 million each. In April of this year, The Boston
Globe noted that a fleet of five submarines will ensure Israel's ability to deploy
submarines in the Persian Gulf area, though Egypt's refusal to allow the
passage of Israeli subs through the Suez Canal will force the vessels to sail
around Africa. The result will be more frequent need for maintenance, thus
apparently accounting for the huge size of the polynomial: to enable a number
of vessels to be handled simultaneously, without the enemy having information
about the number of submarines and other vessels that are at sea or in port at
any given time.
The IDF spokesman stated in response: "In the seventh decade of its existence,
Israel continues to cope with a complex security reality and is deploying to
provide a response to the challenges. The navy received authorization to
expand the military base for additional vessels that will be received in the
The national goals of the polynomial and the historic connection between
Haifa and the navy have sown much confusion among the residents of Haifa,
who voted into power a joint list of the Greens and Shinui (now Kadima). "In
every normal country, the army adapts itself to the citizens,and not the other
way around," protests MK Moshe Kahlon (Likud), who until recently was the
Greens' candidate for mayor. "This is another aspect of the disparaging
treatment of Haifa. I try to imagine the reactions if there were plans to build a
similar facility on the beaches of Tel Aviv or Herzliya. There they build
marinas, but here they build facilities for submarines."
Jafar Farah, the director of Mossawa, the Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens
in Israel, mourns the dream that the port of Haifa will one day be a purely
civilian site. "Experts worked here for years to develop an open port for
peacetime, but apparently no one intends to make peace here. All we know
how to do is criticize organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas, which operate
from civilian areas."
Prof. Ben Artzi: "By means of a clandestine security committee, all the hopes
of restoring to the city what the English took from it - the opening of the
harbor and the creation of a sea front - are being dashed." The mysterious
security committee referred to by Ben Artzi has a name: the Security
Installations Committee [SIC] of the Interior Ministry. In March 2007, Dr.
Yossi Dalal, from the office of the Haifa Municipality's legal adviser, filed an
administrative petition against the authorization of the SIC plan. In addition to
a range of complaints relating to the plan's environmental aspects, the
municipality claimed that the navy had misled it for two years and had
extracted its consent by misrepresenting the plan as being intended solely for
an anchorage, without any mention of the polynomial.
The IDF Spokesman denies this: "The promotion of the plan took three years
and was characterized by full transparency and the involvement of all the
civilian planning bodies."
The court proceedings regarding the petition were conducted behind close
doors. In the end, the IDF agreed to allow the Haifa Municipality to put its
case to the National Appeals Commission of SIC. The local media and the
green organizations knew nothing of the new reality until September 2007,
when the gag order on the case was lifted and it was announced that the
appeals commission had rejected the municipality's appeal, citing urgency in
the military timetable.
So far the wave of public protest has been blocked by the municipality itself,
which believes it can solve the problem with its own resources. In October
2007, the municipality appealed the decision of the appeals commission, this
time in the Administrative Affairs Court in Jerusalem. At the same time, the
municipality is holding contacts with the Defense Ministry on the possibility of
moving the project to the eastern port, which will soon be built, or on changes
to the original plan.
A week ago, the green umbrella organization Life and Environment gave its
Black Globe award to the SIC for its poor environmental record. The award
was presented to the committee - in absentia - at an event in which Green
Globe awards were presented to environmentally conscious groups. SIC was
condemned for a series of secret decisions to establish security installations in
cases where secret discussions were not called for. The polynomial was
described in the ceremony as "a vast security structure that is going to be built
on the Haifa shoreline and was approved in a short, closed procedure, without
public participation and contrary to the National Master Plan" as it relates to
the Haifa coast.
The SIC bodies of the Interior Ministry operate in conjunction with the District
Planning and Building Commissions. They consist of representatives of the
Defense Ministry, the Interior Ministry and the Israel Lands Administration,
and each of them is chaired by the district planner of the Interior Ministry.
Several High Court of Justice decisions in recent years have involved SIC. One
example is a petition by the Galilee community of Hoshaya against the Defense
Ministry. Residents were stunned one day to see bulldozers leveling the ground
at the edge of their community. It turned out that the IDF planned to move the
depots of the huge Kurdani base near Haifa to the new site. The petition was
accompanied by an opinion of the Israel Union for Environmental Defense
(IUED), stating that there was no need to use SIC to approve every military
"Since the army makes use of this instrument to establish every last logistics
base, we proposed creating a filtering mechanism to limit that usage to two
criteria," says Eli Ben Ari, the IUED legal adviser. "One, in the case of a
secret installation, only in the sense that it is not visible to the eye. The second,
in the case of an urgent security need, if there is not enough time to go through
regular planning processes." The High Court of Justice ruled that since the
work had already begun and money was already spent, the Hoshaya project
could continue, but took careful note of the two criteria proposed by IUED:
urgency and secrecy.
What are the implications for the Haifa project?
Ben Ari: "In terms of the principles of secrecy and urgency, this is a plan that
probably should have gone through a regular planning procedure. Therefore,
in the last analysis, the question is how the procedure will be handled
Hold that protest
In the past few weeks, work has begun to dry the project area and build the
breakwater. Photographs published last week in a local Haifa weekly by the
Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel did not rattle the Haifa public or
prompt the municipality to take any unusual steps.
What accounts for the fact that a project of this scale is proceeding so quietly in
"Already two years ago, when everything was still secret, I urged Mayor Yahav
to form a coalition of all the relevant bodies," Prof. Ben Artzi says. "He said
we should wait until the mediation and court processes concluded. Now the
work has begun and patience is running out. The municipality has to wage the
struggle with the active backing of the public. I do not know of any proposal to
stop the work that is on the agenda, and if there is one, that is a grave matter,
because it means that again, they are not bringing in the public."
In fact, so poorly informed is the public that two Haifa writers and public
activists, A.B. Yehoshua and Sami Michael, had never heard of the polynomial
plan. "In February 2007, there was this hush-hush talk at City Hall about how
there was going to be a terrible natural disaster on the stretch of beach that is
most burned into world consciousness in regard to Haifa," says Shlomo
Gilboa, a member of the municipal council in a one-person faction. "Everyone
panicked, including the mayor and his deputy, Shmuel Gelbhart, both of
whom, it later turned out, had known about the plan long before. Everyone
who knew anyone in the government rushed to Jerusalem, and I remember at
least one trip with Yahav and the municipality director general for meetings
with cabinet ministers."
According to Gilboa, after the appeal was denied, the senior officials in the
municipality were divided in their reactions, with Gelbhart, from the Greens,
accepting the decision to approve the project in return for the development of
the harbor front for the public. After the failure in the appeals commission,"
Gelbhart says, "the mayor decided to drop the whole polynomial thing . All I
can do now is write a letter to the State Comptroller's Office. It looks as though
we will not find out the implications of all this until the state comptroller's
report three years from now."
On October 2007, Gilboa launched a private campaign against the polynomial
project under the slogan, "Get the monster out of the landscape." During the
Haifa Film Festival he and his associates got 6,280 people to sign a petition
against the project, and another 12,000 people have signed via the Internet, he
says. "No one wants to help me with the financing," Gilboa says. "Yahav only
declared his support, helped me formulate the posters and allowed me to set up
stands for people to sign in the streets. On the day the film festival ended I got
a phone call from him at 7 A.M. He told me excitedly that the director general
of the Defense Ministry had called him at 2 A.M. and said, 'Stop that, but we
will help you.' Yahav asked me to stop the protest activities immediately,
because 'we are going to set up a joint committee with the army and change
the plan. You won, you did your thing, and from now on it's only me.'" Gilboa
hesitated for a moment, but agreed, "because it's the mayor who is asking, and
this whole thing also cost me a great deal of money."
Shai Cohen, director of the Haifa branch of the Nature Protection Society, was
lambasted by Yahav for expressing a lukewarm position. "Yahav called me one
day in the car and shouted over the phone," he relates. "He was angry because
I had dared to tell the press that the decision of the appeals commission was
regrettable, though it also contained positive elements. I told myself that if this
is the attitude, then I too would move to all-out opposition. Since then I have
coordinated with them, but the message I got was 'Quiet, we're talking.' As
part of the preparations for the Green Globe event, I went to photograph the
area and saw that an area of 70 meters had been dried out. It's true that the
appeals commission said the work could go ahead, but where is Yahav?"
In the two years since it learned of the plan, the municipality has not taken the
measures required in strategic struggles of this kind. There has been no public
campaign, no lobbyists hired to talk to the defense establishment or to interior
and finance ministries, no PR people to get the national press involved.
"Integrated forces and a public tailwind are perfectly fine, but not at this
stage," says the municipality director general, Shmuel Gants. "With all due
respect to those who are involved from academe and politics, they are not well
enough informed about the security details, and populist election-eve-style
headlines will not change the decision."
That is exactly the complaint against Yahav - that the municipality's protest
campaign against the polynomial is waiting for his election campaign, and in
the meantime you lost precious time and will not be able to restore the status
"We are ready for every possibility of reducing the damage, but I believe we
will reach a settlement. We understand that the defense establishment has to
acquire new vessels under timetable and other constraints, whereas the defense
establishment understands the municipality's concern about the blow to urban
Have you abandoned the alternative of the eastern port?
"I suggest to Haaretz Magazine, too, to publish the story at a later time,
because there will soon be new agreements. And no, the eastern alternative has
not been abandoned."
The eastern option
Public activists are not the only ones who have been burnt by Yahav's style.
The negotiating teams of the IDF and the Defense Ministry were also deeply
offended by him at the personal level. (Yahav chose not to respond.) "I was
disappointed to hear Yahav inform us that he will not take into account
compromises that will not be suitable for him," the senior navy officer said this
week. From his point of view, Yahav is the bad guy who is leading opposition
to the plan. "We proposed to the municipality to be a partner in the external
design of the structure, in form and in color, and we even proposed an
architectural competition. After all, after the new port is built, it will be opened
to the public on Independence Day and will integrate into the life of the city.
Yahav wants only one thing: to kick the navy into the eastern port."
He no longer trusts you. For two years you sold him a story about an innocent
anchorage and hid the series of structures and the polynomial. Then you sent
blurred sketches. "We reject those allegations. As early as September 2004 we
invited Yahav to a meeting on the roof of the Haifa base and showed him the
plans for the dried-out area and the breakwater. He was enthusiastic, and from
his point of view, it was clear that this would advance the plan to open the
seafront. There were many more meetings, and even Gelbhart, from the
Greens, understood that the plan would make possible the opening of the
harborfront and preserve territorial continuity as far as Carmel Beach."
Since the SIC decision, there have been many planning modifications in the
area. The master plan for the eastern port was approved in principle by the
National Council for Planning and Building. The municipality accepted the
proposal of the Transportation Ministry to forgo an airport in return for
shifting the entire port eastward, into the Kishon Creek area. But the navy
rejects outright the proposal to establish the new compound in the northern
section of the eastern port and receive vast tracts of land that will become
available upon the dismantlement of the container farm and the airport.
"It looks as though navy engineers and planners have simply fallen in love
with their plan and are locked into it," says architect Har Gil.
"These are changes and plans on ice," navy sources say. "It took them 10
years to plan and build Carmel Port I, so are they going to finish the eastern
port in 16 months, as the municipality has declared? They will not manage to
bring even the material to dry the area in that time. We have to complete the
work by the end of 2011, but apart from the timetable, the eastern port is
unsuitable for the military needs of the new vessels that are on the way.
Another difficulty is to channel by land military equipment in an area that is
saturated with hazardous materials adjacent to the petrochemical plants and
the oil refineries."
The chairman of SIC and the Haifa District Planner, Adam Kulman,
consistently expressed a position different from that of the defense
establishment, taking note of the probable environmental harm. In the
discussions by the appeals commission, he recommended moving the project to
the eastern port.
"So what if he is the district planner and chairman of the committee," the
director general of the Interior Ministry, Aryeh Bar, says in response. "I am
the chairman of the National Planning and Building Council and a geographer
by profession, with 50 years of experience in planning in the Housing and
Transportation Ministries and on the Ayalon Freeway. The polynomial is
definitely not an eyesore, and Israel's security considerations take precedence
over every other consideration. With all due respect to the environmental
protection document, we have a country to run here. Can't a country build
itself military installations? Where will we build them, in Turkey?"
Le Port de Haifa
Les nouveaux quais
Photos: Shahaf Tibul
2010 Inauguration du nouveau terminal de conteneurs
Les travaux, d’un montant d’environ 1 milliard de
shekels, ayant été achevés conformement au calendrier
établi, le nouveau terminal de conteneurs, equipe de
matériel de manutention, de systèmes d'exploitation et
des technologies les plus avancés a été inaugure
Le terminal dispose d'un quai principal de 700m et d’un
quai secondaire de 250m, d’un tirant d’eau de 15m, d'un
domaine spécialisé pour les produits dangereux, de racks
réfrigérés, de sous-stations électriques et de bâtiments
d'exploitation. Le Quai Carmel sera exploité par voie
électronique par six grues de quai ship-to-shore de 75-
mètres de haut qui auront une portee de 18 rangées de
conteneurs à travers le pont du navire. Douze transtainers
électriques (vertes) sur rails (RMG) exploiteront un parc
de stockage de conteneurs et seront adaptés pour stocker
jusqu'à 11 conteneurs de largeur et cinq conteneurs par la
hauteur entre ses supports. Ce terminal permettre au
terminal d’accueillir des navires super post-Panamax et
permettront de gerer une capacité supplémentaire
d'environ 500 000 containers par an.
2010 From Port2port
Haifa’s Carmel Container Terminal inaugurated Nov 1, 2010
The Haifa port company purchased the most advanced handling equipment,
operating systems and technologies available in the world’s ports secstor
In compliance with the timetable established, works have been completed for
the new Carmel Container Terminal in the Haifa port.
The Carmel terminal has a 700m main quay and a 250m secondary quay.
Water depth at quay stands at 15.5m. The project included the construction
of a specialized dangerous and hazardous stacking area, reefer racks,
electrical substations and operational buildings.
The Haifa port company has purchased the most advanced handling
equipment, operating systems and technologies available in the world’s ports
sector. The Carmel Quay will be operated electronically by six 75-meter high
SPP Ship-To-Shore gantry cranes, whichserve up to 18 rows of containers
across the ship’s deck. Twelve electric (green) rail mounted gantry cranes
(RMGs) will operate a container storage yard in the Carmel Terminal’s
hinterland. The RMGs will be suitable for storing up to 11 containers by
width and five containers by height between its supports.
The Carmel project was completed on-time and on-budget and was built
based on the highest international standards in order to allow the terminal to
accommodate super post-Panamax vessels.
The terminal provides an additional capacity of about 500 thousand box
moves per year.
The construction works cost NIS 1 billion ($250m)
2010 annee record
2010 record year
Les plans d'expansion du port de Haïfa ont étés approuvé alors que
les verts appellent à des études plus poussées
Le projets d'expansion dramatique du port de Haïfa progresse
entoure de craintes sur l'impact environnemental.
par Zafrir Rinat, de Haaretz 24/2/2013
Deux organismes nationaux de planification ont récemment
approuvé un plan d'expansion pour le port de Haïfa qui va
considérablement modifier l'aspect de la ville et la baie de Haïfa
dans les années à venir. L’extension du port pourrait être critique
pour les tentatives de la municipalité de Haïfa de revitaliser la zone
située au pied du Mont-Carmel connue comme la Ville Basse.
Toutefois, les inquiétudes sur les éventuelles incidences
environnementales ont été exprimées par des militants et des
Le Conseil National de la Construction et de la Planification et le
Comite de la Protection de l'Environnement Côtier ont tous
deux approuvé le plan de l’entreprise de développement et des
biens des Ports d’Israël (Israel Ports Development & Assets
Company). Selon les plans, le port de commerce de Haïfa sera
déplacé de son emplacement actuel et un grand quai sera construit
au nord du port actuel pour les conteneurs d'expédition, derrière
lequel se trouvera un quai pour le déchargement des produits
chimiques et des carburants.
Le port militaire sera également déplacé vers le nouveau quai. Un
brise-lames sera également construit à proximité des nouveaux
quais et la digue actuelle sera prolongée.
Israël Ports a également des plans pour construire une grande
zone de stockage pour les conteneurs à côté du port, dans une zone
qui est actuellement presque complètement vide et négligée. "Nous
avons besoin de ces espaces pour fournir des services au niveau
requis, mais même maintenant, nous sommes en concurrence avec
d'autres qui construisent des structures de stockage et de services
ici, même si c’est la seule région à notre disposition," dit le PDG d’
Israël Ports Shlomo Brieman.
Le plan peut profiter à la ville basse de Haïfa, car il permettra
l'accès au port en tant que zone de tourisme et de divertissement.
Après que le plan ait été approuvé par le Comité de
l'Environnement Côtier semaine dernière, le maire Yona Yahav a
déclaré que c’était "une étape importante pour assurer la centralité
du port de Haïfa, ce qui aura un impact dramatique sur le Nord du
pays en général, et sur la ville en particulier. "
Dans le cadre du processus d'approbation, Israël Ports a dû
procéder à une étude d'impact environnemental, l'une des enquêtes
les plus amples menées ces dernières années. La compagnie a
reconnu que l'expansion du port constituerait "une rupture dans la
continuité visuelle de l'eau, ayant notamment des répercussions
sur la vue depuis la crête du Carmel et de la plage de Kiryat
L'auteure de l'étude d'impact environnemental, Varda Shafir, a
déclaré que 35.000 mètres cubes de sable bloqué au sud du brise-
lames devraient être ramassés et déversés sur les plages de la
banlieue de la baie de Haïfa (Nord de la ville.)
Shafir dit que le dommage direct aux crêtes calcaires sous-marines
d'importance écologique de la baie de Haïfa ne serait cause que là
où un canal menant au port serait dragué. Une étude de L’Institut
Israélien de Recherche Océanographique et Limnologique montre
que ces crêtes sont principalement habitées par des espèces
envahissantes de la mer Rouge qui ont déjà déplacé des espèces
Selon l'enquête, l'agrandissement du port ne nuirait pas à la
qualité de l'eau dans la baie ou dans la rivière Kishon qui s’y jette.
Toutefois, l'Autorité du Kishon n'est pas convaincue et a demandé
une enquête supplémentaire.
Les groupes environnementaux disent que la zone située derrière le
port doit être développée pour une variété de besoins urbains, et
pas simplement pour le stockage de conteneurs. Dans un
document préparé par la Société pour la Protection de la Nature en
Israël, le groupe a appelé à "une compensation environnementale
adaptée à Haïfa sous la forme d'un parc à côté du Kishon."
Expansion plans for Haifa Port approved as greens call for further
Plans for dramatic expansion of Haifa Port move forward amid
concerns over environmental impact.
by Zafrir Rinat, published in Haaretz, 24/2/13
Two national planning bodies have recently approved an
expansion plan for Haifa Port that will dramatically change the
look of the city and Haifa Bay in the years to come. Expansion of
the port could be critical to the Haifa Municipality's attempts to
revitalize the area at the foot of Mount Carmel known as the
Lower City. However, concerns over possible environmental
implications have been voiced by activists and official bodies.
The National Building and Planning Council and the Coastal
Environment Protection Committee have both approved the Israel
Ports Development & Assets Company's plan to develop the port.
According to plans, the Haifa cargo port will be moved from its
current location and a large dock for shipping containers will be
built north of the current port, behind which will be a dock for
offloading chemicals and fuel.
The military port will also be moved to the new dock. A
breakwater will also be built near the new docks and the current
breakwater will be extended.
Israel Ports also has plans to build a large storage area for
containers next to the port, in an area that is currently almost
completely empty and neglected. "We must have these areas to
provide services at the level required, but even now we are
competing with others who are building storage and services
structures here, although it is the only area at our disposal," Israel
Ports CEO Shlomo Brieman said.
The plan will potentially benefit Haifa's Lower City because it will
permit access to the port as a tourist and entertainment zone. After
the plan was approved by the coastal environment committee last
week, Mayor Yona Yahav said it was "an important step to ensure
the centrality of the Haifa port, which will have a dramatic impact
on the north of the country in general, and on the city in
As part of the approval process, Israel Ports was required to
conduct an environmental impact survey, one of the most extensive
such surveys conducted in recent years. The company conceded
that the port's expansion would constitute "a break in the visual
continuity of the water, particularly impacting the view from the
Carmel ridge and the Kiryat Haim beach."
The author of the environmental impact survey, Varda Shafir, said
that 35,000 cubic meters of sand blocked off south of the
breakwaters would have to be scooped up and poured out on the
beaches of the Haifa Bay suburbs (north of the city.)
Shafir said direct damage to the ecologically significant
underwater calcareous limestone ridges in the Haifa Bay would
only ensue where a channel was dredged leading to the port. A
study by the Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research
Institute shows these ridges to be extensively inhabited by invasive
species from the Red Sea that have already pushed out local
According to the survey, the port expansion would not damage
water quality in the bay or the Kishon river that flows into it.
However, the Kishon River Drainage Authority is not convinced
and has asked for another survey.
Environmental groups say the area behind the port should be
developed for a variety of urban needs, not just container storage.
In a position paper prepared by the Society for the Protection of
Nature in Israel, the group called for "suitable environmental
compensation for Haifa in the form of a park next to the Kishon."
Beneath Syria’s dark clouds of war a silver lining: Israel, a
conduit for regional trade
From Haaretz 25/04/13 By Daniel Schmil
Israel has seen a sharp increase in trucks from Jordan and
Turkey passing through, given that they can no longer travel
through Syria. Turkish trucks arrive by ferry, then drive into
Jordan and Iraq.
Drivers in the north of Israel may have recently encountered
an unusual sight: convoys of old refrigeration trucks going
to or from Haifa, decorated with posters and colored lights
and escorted by police vans. These trucks, carrying
Jordanian or Turkish licence plates, made no stops but were
traveling directly between Jordan and the port of Haifa,
moving Jordanian or Iraqi goods to Turkey or vice versa.
Lately, Israel has quietly become an overland conduit of
export and import goods, resulting from the ongoing civil
war in Syria.
Transportation experts have long held that Israel is
strategically placed as a potential land bridge between the
Mediterranean and Arab countries. But it required the
blocking of access to the Mediterranean through Syria to
make this potential a relevant alternative for Israel's
Jordan is almost completely landlocked, with only Aqaba, far
from most of the country, as an outlet to the Red Sea. Thus,
most goods to and from Jordan are transported by land.
Ships from Europe and Turkey used to anchor in Syrian
ports such as Latakia and even more so at the more southern
port of Tartus. Goods were unloaded onto trucks and then
transported overland to Iraq and Jordan. The Syrian civil
war disrupted this chain.
At first, the Syrians raised the tolls they charged for
transferring these goods through Syria, but later on the
authorities could no longer guarantee the security of drivers
or of the goods they carried. Merchants in Turkey and
Jordan looked for alternatives, initially considering overland
transport from Turkey to Iraq. However, bad roads in the
area and lack of security in view of Kurdish rebel activity in
eastern Turkey and northern Iraq made this route too
Another route that was tried was shipping the goods to Port
Said in Egypt, then by trucks overland to the Red Sea and by
ferry to Saudi Arabia, then overland again to Jordan. This
seven-day trip was not worthwhile. Only after these
convoluted routes were tried did Jordan approach the Israeli
office for regional cooperation. A few days later, the Turks
also asked to use Israel as a trade corridor to benefit, among
other things, the passage of trucks carrying medicinal
oxygen for Jordanian hospitals.
Israel’s response to these requests was not a simple matter.
The security services have little intelligence regarding the
drivers or owners of these transport trucks, unlike
information they have on Palestinian truck drivers who enter
Israel. After lengthy discussions and following pressure
exerted by the Regional Development Minister, Silvan
Shalom, approval was given for a small number of
Jordanian trucks. This number grew over time.
The trucks enter Israel at the Jordan River crossing at
Sheikh Hussein and then travel directly to the port of Haifa,
covering 80 kilometers. They undergo strict security checks,
including imaging of the cargo and tests to detect explosives.
They travel in convoys of 10 trucks, accompanied by a police
This land commerce involves Turkish trucks as well.
Between 50 and 150 trucks arrive by ferry, and then are
driven by their Turkish drivers straight into Jordan.
The Israel Tax Authority says that this commerce with
Jordan has been around for a while, but on a small scale. In
2011, for example, 3,500 trucks carried goods in both
directions. The goods were carried on Israeli trucks, since
Jordanian trucks were not authorized to travel in Israel.
After setting a precedent allowing them in, the number of
trucks almost doubled to 6,400 in 2012. In the first quarter of
2013 alone, there were 2,600 trucks carrying goods in both
The tax authorities do not have figures for the value of goods
transported through Israel. Trucks from Jordan to Turkey
carry mainly agricultural produce, along with textiles and
light industrial products. Goods traveling from Turkey to
Jordan include raw materials for industry, packaging and
Regional Development Ministry is now trying to expand this
commerce to include containers as well, to be placed on
trucks. The Jordanians are reluctant out of concern for
hurting trade through the port of Aqaba. The ministry is
trying to improve communications and existing links, hoping
to expand services and facilitate passage by prolonging
workers' shifts at customs services, while making them more
This transport by land has been operating for a year with
very few hitches, hidden from public view. Government
officials say that this was done in attempt to protect the
delicate relationship with Jordan. “People considered to be
collaborators with Israel are shunned in Jordan,” says a
senior government official. “The trucks show no signs of
having passed through Israel, and drivers’ passports are not
stamped.” This is partly due to the fact that some of these
trucks continue to Iraq, which does not have diplomatic
relations with Israel.
The senior official voiced concern that publication of this
article would have negative consequences in Jordan.
“Commerce is proceeding under the surface, but this
succeeds because no politics are involved,” says a
government source. Nevertheless, this land bridge affects
and is affected by geopolitical considerations. It may have
helped the recent thaw in the frozen Turkish-Israeli relations.
Israeli government sources say that the permits given to
Jordanian trucks to move along Israeli roads is “an
important feature of cooperation which may bring the two
countries closer.” What started out as a gesture to Jordan
and Turkey may become a source of revenues as well. “One
could collect up to NIS 200 million a year in port duties,
refueling, insurance and other transportation payments,”
says a government source. But the biggest winner, another
source says, is the improved relations with our neighbors.
Sous les sombres nuages de la guerre en Syrie, une lisiere de
lumiere: Israël, un passage pour le commerce régional
25/04/13 de Haaretz, par Daniel Schmil
Israël a connu une forte augmentation du passage du nombre
de camions en provenance de Jordanie et de Turquie, étant
donné qu'ils ne peuvent plus voyager à travers la Syrie. Les
camions Turcs arrivent en ferry, puis se dirigent vers la
Jordanie et l’Irak.
Les chauffeurs dans le nord d'Israël ont récemment rencontré
un spectacle inhabituel: des convois de vieux camions
frigorifiques à destination ou au départ de Haïfa, décorés avec
des affiches et des lumières colorées, et escortés par des
fourgons de police. Ces camions, portant des plaques
d'immatriculation Jordaniennes ou Turques, voyageaient sans
escale et se rendaient directement entre la Jordanie et le port
de Haïfa, transportant des marchandises Jordaniennes ou
irakiennes en Turquie, ou vice versa. Dernièrement, Israël est
tranquillement devenu un passage terrestre pour l'exportation
et l'importation des marchandises, résultant de la guerre civile
Depuis longtemps les experts du transport pensent qu'Israël est
stratégiquement placé comme un pont terrestre potentiel entre
les pays méditerranéens et arabes. Mais il fallait le blocage de
l'accès à la Méditerranée à travers la Syrie pour faire de ce
potentiel une alternative pertinente pour les voisins d'Israël.
La Jordanie est presque totalement enclavée, avec seulement
Aqaba, eloignee de la plus grande partie pays, comme sortie
sur la mer Rouge. Ainsi, la plupart des marchandises à
destination et en provenance de Jordanie sont transportées par
voie terrestre. Les navires d’Europe et de Turquie avaient l’
habitude de jeter l’ancre dans les ports syriens comme
Lattaquié ou au port de Tartous plus au sud. Les marchandises
etaient déchargées sur des camions, puis transportées par voie
terrestre en Irak et en Jordanie. La guerre civile syrienne a
perturbé cette chaîne.
Dans un premier temps, les Syriens ont augmente les péages
facturés pour le transfert de ces marchandises à travers la
Syrie, mais plus tard, les autorités ne pouvaient plus garantir
la sécurité des conducteurs ou des marchandises qu'ils
transportaient. Les commerçants de Turquie et de Jordanie ont
cherché des alternatives, en tenant compte d'abord des
transports terrestres de la Turquie vers l'Irak. Toutefois, les
mauvaises routes de la région et le manque de sécurité en
raison de l'activité des rebelles kurdes dans l'est de la Turquie
et le nord de l'Irak ont rendu cette voie trop compliquée.
Une autre voie possible qui a été essayee a été l'expédition des
marchandises à Port-Saïd en Égypte, puis par camions par
voie terrestre vers la mer Rouge, ensuite par ferry vers l'Arabie
Saoudite, puis par voie terrestre à nouveau en Jordanie. Ce
voyage de sept jours n’était pas valable. C'est seulement après
avoir essaye ces routes alambiquées que la Jordanie a
approche le bureau israélien pour la coopération régionale.
Quelques jours plus tard, les Turcs ont également demandé a
utiliser Israël comme corridor de commerce pour le passage,
entre autres, de camions transportant de l'oxygène médical
pour les hôpitaux Jordaniens.
La réponse d'Israël à ces demandes n'était pas evidente. Les
services de sécurité ont peu de renseignements en ce qui
concerne les chauffeurs ou les propriétaires de ces camions de
transport, contrairement aux informations dont ils disposent
sur les conducteurs de camions Palestiniens qui entrent en
Israël. Après de longues discussions et a la suite de la pression
exercée par le ministre du Développement régional, Silvan
Shalom, l'approbation a été donnée pour un petit nombre de
camions Jordaniens. Ce nombre a augmenté au fil du temps.
Les camions entrent en Israël au poste de Sheikh Hussein sur
le Jourdain, puis se déplacent directement vers le port de
Haïfa, couvrant 80 kilomètres. Ils subissent des contrôles de
sécurité stricts, y compris l'imagerie de la cargaison et des tests
pour détecter les explosifs. Ils se déplacent en convois de 10
camions, accompagnés par une escorte de police.
Ce commerce implique aussi des camions Turcs. Entre 50 et
150 camions arrivent par bateau, puis sont conduits
directement en Jordanie.
L'administration fiscale d'Israël dit que ce commerce avec la
Jordanie existe depuis un certain temps, mais sur une petite
échelle. En 2011, par exemple, 3.500 camions transportaient
des marchandises dans les deux sens. Les marchandises
étaient transportées sur des camions israéliens, puisque les
camions Jordaniens n’etaient pas autorisés à se rendre en
Israël. Après avoir établi un précédent accordant la
permission, le nombre de camions a presque doublé- 6.400
camions en 2012. Au cours du premier trimestre de 2013, on a
compté 2.600 camions transportant des marchandises dans les
Les autorités fiscales n'ont pas les chiffres pour la valeur des
marchandises transportées à travers Israël. Les camions allant
de Jordanie en Turquie transportent portent principalement
des produits agricoles, ainsi que des textiles et des produits
industriels légers. Les marchandises transportées à partir de la
Turquie vers la Jordanie comprennent des matières premières
pour l'industrie, des emballages et de la nourriture sèche.
Le Ministère du Développement Régional cherche maintenant
à étendre ce commerce pour y inclure des containers qui
pourraient être placés sur des camions. Les Jordaniens sont
réticents par crainte faire concurrence aux échanges à travers
le port d'Aqaba. Le ministère s'efforce d'améliorer les
communications et les liens existants, en espérant étendre les
services et faciliter le passage en prolongeant les horaires de
travail des services des douanes, tout en les rendant plus
Ce transport par voie terrestre a été exploité pendant un an
avec très peu d'accrocs, caché de la vue du public. Les
représentants du gouvernement disent que cela a été fait dans
le but de protéger la relation délicate avec la Jordanie. «Les
gens considérés comme des collaborateurs d'Israël sont exclus
en Jordanie», explique un haut fonctionnaire du
gouvernement. "Les camions ne montrent aucun signe apres
avoir traversé Israël et les passeports des conducteurs ne sont
pas tamponnes." Ceci est en partie dû au fait que certains de
ces camions continuent vers l'Irak, qui n'a pas de relations
diplomatiques avec Israël.
Le haut fonctionnaire a exprimé son inquiétude que la
publication de cet article aurait des conséquences négatives en
Jordanie. «Le commerce se déroule sous la surface, mais cela
réussit, car aucune politique n’est impliquée», explique une
source gouvernementale. Néanmoins, ce pont terrestre affecte
et est affecté par des considérations géopolitiques. Il a peut-être
contribué au récent dégel dans les relations Turco-Israéliennes.
Des sources gouvernementales Israéliennes disent que les
permis accordés aux camions Jordaniens de se déplacer sur les
routes israéliennes est "un élément important de la
coopération qui peut amener les deux pays à se rapprocher."
Ce qui a commencé comme un geste à la Jordanie et la
Turquie pourrait aussi devenir une source de revenus. "On
pourrait gagner jusqu'à NIS 200 millions par an en taxes
portuaires, ravitaillement, assurance et autres paiements de
transport", a dit une source gouvernementale. Mais le grand