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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Haifa Port

Port of Haifa

The Port of Haifa lies on the shores of the Bay of Haifa on northern Israel’s coast on the Mediterranean Sea. On the slopes of Mount Carmel, the Port of Haifa is the third-largest city in Israel and the largest city in northern Israel. The UNESCO World Heritage Site Bahá’í World Center is located in Port of Haifa. Its population is a mix of Jews and Arabs, and in 2006, about 267 thousand people lived in the Port of Haifa.

The Port of Haifa is the country’s main port. First established by the British in 1933, Israel expanded the port substantially after independence. The major industries in today’s Port of Haifa include steel foundries, shipbuilding of smaller vessels, food processing, and the manufacture of chemicals, cement, and textiles. It is also home to oil refineries and a steam-driven power plant. The Port of Haifa also boasts Israel’s only subway.

Port History

During the 14th Century BC, a small port called Tell Abu Hawam was active in the region around the Port of Haifa. Greek explorer Scylax wrote about a city on Mount Carmel in the Persian era between the 6th and 4th Centuries BC. When the ancient port became silted, the port was moved to a new site to the south.

Tulmudic writings first mention the Port of Haifa in the 3rd Century AD when it was the home of some Jewish scholars and a small fishing village. At this time, Greeks were engaged in trade on the coast near the Port of Haifa. The Christian Bible also mentions the Kishon River and Mount Carmel.

At the top of Mount Carmel is the “Cave of Elijah,” a grotto associated with the prophet and Elisha, his apprentice. Mount Carmel’s highest peak is called Muhraka (place of burning) in Arabic, recalling the early Canaanite and Israelite times when burnt offerings were made on the hilltop. Early residents of the Port of Haifa made their living through fishing and agriculture.

Although it was never an important center, the Port of Haifa flourished under Byzantine rule. The Persians conquered the Port of Haifa in the 7th Century AD. When the Rashidun Caliphate dominated the Middle East after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, the Port of Haifa saw new development and expansion. During the 9th Century, the Abbasid Caliphates and Umayyad established trade with ports in Egypt, and the city contained some shipyards.

Under the control of the Caliphate, Arabs and Jews lived and worked together in maritime commerce and trade. By the 11th Century, the Port of Haifa was a prosperous mercantile center. Its most important industries were glass- and dye-making.

In 1100 AD, European Crusaders blockaded the Port of Haifa and besieged the town. After a terrible battle with Muslims and Jews, the Crusaders conquered the Port of Haifa. They reduced it to a small agricultural and fishing village, bringing it into the Principality of Galilee in their Kingdom of Jerusalem. In the 12th Century, the Carmelites built a church on Mount Carmel.

In 1187, the great Sultan Saladin destroyed the Crusader’s fortress. The Mamluks retook the Port of Haifa in 1265 and turned the Mount Carmel church into a mosque and, later, a hospital. The Mamluks destroyed the Port of Haifa’s fortifications and most of its homes to prevent the Crusaders’ return. This left the city more or less desolate during their rule from the 13th to the 16th Centuries.

Bedouin ruler Dhaher al-Omar demolished the old city and rebuilt Haifa in a new location in 1761, protecting it with a city wall. This was the beginning of the modern Port of Haifa. After he died in 1775, the Ottomans continued to rule Haifa until the end of World War I except for two brief times. Napoleon Bonaparte took the Port of Haifa in 1799, also withdrawing that year. Egyptian viceroy Muhammad Ali governed in 1831 and 1840.

After 1840, the Port of Haifa grew in importance and size. By 1854, over 2000 people lived there. More than half of them were Muslim, and over forty percent were Christian. Only 32 Jews lived in the Port of Haifa at that time.

German Templars arrived in the Port of Haifa in 1868 to settle in today’s German Colony of Haifa. This was a turning point for the Port of Haifa. They built a steam-based power plant and factories, and they started a carriage service to nearby cities.

Jews from Romania first came to the Port of Haifa in the late 1800s, purchasing more than a thousand acres of land near the port. Unaccustomed to farming, they hired Arab peasants to cultivate the land. During the 19th Century, the former Muslim mosque on Mount Carmel was re-converted to a Carmelite monastery.

In 1909, the remains of Báb were moved to nearby Acre, and a shrine to him was build on Mount Carmel. Today, the Port of Haifa is still a place of worship and pilgrimage for the Bahá’í faith. The Shrine of the Báb, administrative offices, and terraced gardens make up the Bahá’í World Center on the northern slope of Mount Carmel. The religion’s founder, Bahá’u’lláh, was imprisoned in the Port of Haifa by the Ottomans, making it an important site for the faith. In 2008, the Bahá’í World Center was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

By the early 20th Century, the Port of Haifa was recognized as an important industrial port with a growing population of about 20 thousand people, over 80% of them Muslim Arabs and only 4% Jews. Jewish immigration from Europe during the first half of the 20th Century dramatically changed that balance. By 1945, the Port of Haifa was 47% Jewish, 33% Muslim, and 20% Christian.

In 1947, the UN Partition Plan proposal made the Port of Haifa part of the new Jewish state of Israel. Arab leaders rejected the plan, and Haifa fell victim to the violence that broke out all over the country. When members of the Jewish underground bombed a crowd of Palestinian Arabs, rioting led to the killing of 39 Jewish employees of the Haifa Oil Refinery. Retaliating for the massacre, Jewish forces attacked an Arab village the next day, killing 60 Arab men.

Because it contained an oil refinery port, the Port of Haifa was an important target in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. In 1948 when the British withdrew from the Port of Haifa, a Haganah brigade captured the Port of Haifa, leading to a huge displacement of the Arab residents of The Port of Haifa. By the end of the year, a few thousand Arabs remained in the Port of Haifa after threats from Zionists, encouragement from Arab leaders, and shelling of Arab neighborhoods and villages.

After the 1948 war, the Port of Haifa became an important gateway for immigration. Thousands of Jewish immigrants were given homes that Arabs had abandoned, and new neighborhoods were built. A hospital and new synagogue were established. By 1953, the Port of Haifa had a master plan for transportation and layout.

Tel Aviv eclipsed the Port of Haifa as a regional center in the ensuing years, and the Port of Ashdod was opened, leading to a further decline in the Port of Haifa’s influence. Furthermore, the Israeli Ministry of Tourism focused on developing Tiberias, and the Port of Haifa lost tourist traffic as well.

By the 1970s, the population of the Port of Haifa was about 200 thousand, and immigration of about 35 thousand Jews from the former Soviet Union boosted that number. Over the years, many of the historic Ottoman buildings were destroyed under Israeli rule. In the 1990s, the Old City was demolished to build a new municipal center. In 2006, the conflict with Lebanon resulted in 93 rockets striking the Port of Haifa and killing 11 civilians and damaging the oil refinery.

The modern Port of Haifa is home to one of Israel’s two oil refineries. The refinery processes nine million tons of crude oil each year. The Port of Haifa is also home to the oldest and biggest business park in Israel, Matam containing contains manufacturing and research and development facilities for several high-tech companies including Intel, Microsoft, Google, IBM, and Yahoo, among others.

The Port of Haifa is still the leading passenger port in Israel. It is still an important cargo port, although it is challenged by the new Port of Ashdod in the south. The Port of Haifa contains many shopping malls and centers. The Port of Haifa has many hotels near its 17 kilometers of beaches. The Port of Haifa’s busiest tourist attraction is the Bahá’í World Center, and many tourists also visit the German Colony and Elijah’s Cave on Mount Carmel. The Port of Haifa is home to the Ein Hod artists’ colony and the Mount Carmel National Park containing caves where remains of Neanderthals and early Homo Sapiens have been found.

Port Commerce

The Port of Haifa has long been an important center for trade and shipping in the Mediterranean Sea. Sir Fredrick Palmer first surveyed the area for the British, confirming that it would be a good location for a deep-water port. The British Port of Haifa was opened in late 1933. It then became a gateway for tremendous immigration of Jews before the State of Israel was established. After independence, the Port of Haifa became Israel’s gateway to the world.

The Port of Haifa covers a large area and includes three main ports: the historic port, the eastern container terminal, and the Kishon Zone. The historic port is home to the western container terminal, piers for breakbulk and bulk cargoes, roll-on/roll-off piers, the Dagon grain silos, and a passenger terminal and piers. The eastern container terminal, on the Hof-Shemen coastline, is Israel’s most important container facility. The Kishon Zone contains breakbulk piers, cargo-handling facilities, a fishing wharf, and anchorage for yachts.

Lying on the southern shores of Haifa Bay, two breakwaters protect the Port of Haifa. The main breakwater to the northwest is almost three thousand meters long, and the lee breakwater to the east is 765 meters long. The entrance channel between the breakwaters is 183 meters wide and 13.8 meters deep.

The Port of Haifa’s Historic Port offers a total 3,330 meters of quays. It contains Quays 1-4 for general cargo, roll-on/roll-off cargo, and passengers. These quays are a total 500 meters long with alongside depths from 8 to 10 meters. Quays 5, 6, and 7 are dedicated to passengers. At a total 260 meters long with alongside depths from 10 to 11.5 meters, Quays 5 and 6 receive passenger ships. Quay 7 is 160 meters long with alongside depth of 11.5 meters, and it is dedicated to passengers.

Quays 8 and 9 support the automated grain terminal with a total 230 meters of wharf with alongside depth of 13.8 meters. At a total length of 400 meters with alongside depths from 8.5 to 10.5 meters, Quays 10, 11, and 12 serve the Western Container Terminal and bulk and roll-on/roll-off cargoes. The finger berth and roll-on/roll-off quay offers 400 meters of berthing space and alongside depth of 7.5 meters.

The oil jetty, also a finger berth, offers a total 800 meters of berthing space at 10.7 meters depth. Additional passenger and service ships offer a total of 560 berthing space at from 5.5 to 10 meters depth. The timber berth dolphin is 300 meters long with alongside depths from 10.2 to 10.8 meters. The main port area also contains a grain terminal with nominal storage capacity for 90 thousand tons. “Dagon” Israel Granaries Company Ltd. operates the grain silo.

The Eastern Container Terminal contains a 960-meter quay with alongside depth to 14 meters, and it covers 400 thousand square meters.

The Kishon Zone is east of the main port near the Kishon stream. It includes an external basin protected by two breakwaters and a 1045-meter-long channel. The Kishon Zone contains the fishing wharf and yacht anchorage. The channel is 80 meters wide at the entrance and 12 meters deep. The east Kishon Quay is 580 meters long with alongside depth to 11 meters. It includes a rear area of 20 hectares. The public uses the Kishon stream park as a tourist, recreational, and sports center.

At the Port of Haifa’s Northern and Southern Terminals are specialized facilities for handling and storing chemicals. The Northern Chemical Terminal on the north side of the Kishon Zone can accommodate three tankers at the same time with water depths at the quay ranging from 4.5 to 8.5 meters. At the end of the general cargo quay in the Kishon Zone is the Southern Chemical Terminal. The southern terminal is operated by Gadot Terminals Ltd. and contains about 70 storage tanks.

North of the port in Haifa Bay, an outer multi-buoy anchorage supports unloading of crude oil that is piped to a tank farm by underground pipeline. The storage tanks are located at the tank farm in Kiryat Haim.

Two kinds of travelers use the Port of Haifa: cruise ship and liner passengers. The Port of Haifa has a modern passenger terminal that can accommodate 600 thousand passengers a year. Located adjacent to a quay that allows three vessels to dock at the same time, the passenger terminal offers easy access to the railway, buses, and roads.

The Port of Haifa is home to Israel’s main container terminal that is a modern, efficient facility. Containers are handled at the new eastern quay and the existing western quay. In 2005, the Port of Haifa handled over 1.1 million TEUs of containerized cargo, representing 65% of all containers through Israeli ports. Also an important hub for container transshipments for the Mediterranean and Black seas, the Port of Haifa container terminal handles over 200 thousand TEUs of container transshipments per year.

In 2006, the Port of Haifa handled 19.2 million tons of cargo dominated by 11.5 million tons of containerized cargo. The Port of Haifa also handled 2.9 million tons of oil, 2.4 million tons of bulk grains, 987 thousand tons of liquid chemicals, 922 thousand tons of bulk in grabs, and 557 thousand tons of other cargoes.

Recent develop efforts, which were to have been completed by 2008, included increasing the capacity for container to 1.5 million TEUs per year, adding 25% to the Eastern Terminal storage capacity, adding storage space to the Hof Shemen and Kishon areas, applying TOS software to improve container terminal operations, and adding several new gantry cranes and other handling equipment at the Eastern and Western Terminals and the Kishon East Terminal.