Israel's Eilat Port Sees 85% Drop In Activity As Mediterranean Imports Also Take Hit

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by Tyler Durden
Sunday, Dec 24, 2023 - 04:20 AM

This week the chief executive of Israel's Eilat Port confirmed that Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping has had a devastating impact on the rate of goods coming into the country.

CEO Gideon Golber told Reuters "you close the main shipping artery to Eilat Port. And therefore we lost 85% of total activity." However, Eilat - which mostly handles car imports on the one hand and exports of potash on the other - is much smaller than Israel's two larger Mediterranean ports of Haifa and Ashdod. Cruise ships in better times also regularly make call there, as there are tourist spots in the region.

Eilat Port

Still, the Houthi aim of inflicting harm on Israel's economy and ability to import/export appears to be happening and could get worse. "We still have a small number of ships for exporting potash, but I believe that with a destination in the Far East they will no longer travel in that direction. So that will also go down," Golber added in his statement.

What's happening to Eilat's traffic could be a sign of things to come for Israel's bigger ports on the Mediterranean side. It's Eilat's location that most important and strategic, as it sits in the south on the Gulf of Aqaba, giving Israel a route to the East without having to navigate the Suez Canal.

Analysis in Al Jazeera has said traffic at Eilat has come to a halt:

Israel, the first direct intended target of the Houthis, has already felt an impact from the disrupted maritime trade. Traffic through its southern port of Eilat, located in the city which is also a tourist destination, has come to a halt, and the foreseeable future seems uncertain as the war rages.

Egypt, which was already facing an ailing economy before the war, could suffer heavily from the slowed trade, in addition to decreased transit fees for cargo going through the Suez Canal, something it is highly dependent on.

Europe and states in the Mediterranean are poised to suffer the most losses if the current situation persists in the long term, as many of the ships taking cargo to and from those countries have been affected.

And in more bad news a growing list of countries have rejected the US plan for a large naval coalition to secure Red Sea shipping against Houthi attacks, as we reported earlier

Reuters said about twenty countries have signed up for the Pentagon's new operation. However, several countries, including Australia, Spain, Italy, and France, have rejected the Pentagon's request to participate in the operation. 

Spain's Defense Ministry said it would only participate in NATO-led missions or European-coordinated operations - not ones commanded by the Pentagon: "We will not participate unilaterally in the Red Sea operation." And Italy's Defense Ministry voiced similar concerns, indicating it would send naval frigate Virginio Fasan to the Red Sea but only respond to requests by Italian shipowners. 

But it remains that if things get bad enough for European imports, some of the leadership in these countries may have a change of heart.