Photo Credit: Pixabay / TranThangNhat
Eilat, on the northern shore of the Red Sea.

With the Port of Eilat taking a financial hit from Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping, workers are protesting management plans to lay off half of the employees.

Port management said 60 of the 120 dockworkers will be laid off as Red Sea shipping has dwindled. The Histadrut, the umbrella organization of Israeli labor unions, is due to hold a protest at the port on Wednesday.


Before October 7, The Histadrut declared a labor dispute at the port following an impasse in negotiations to sign a collective agreement.

“The port management is trying to take advantage of the war situation and harm the livelihood of dedicated workers and workers in the southern periphery,” said Histadrut attorney Nir Eisenberg. “We will not give up until the port management realizes that the port has no right to exist without its excellent employees and workers.”

The port is owned by brothers Joseph, Avi and Rafi Nakash, who won a tender to operate the port in 2012 during a government privatization campaign.

Eilat is situated at the southernmost tip of Israel, providing access to the Red Sea, and is the country’s gateway for shipping from the Gulf states, India and the Far East. The port plays a crucial role in Israeli plans for a high-speed rail link connecting Eilat to the Port of Ashdod on the Mediterranean coast.

The Iran-backed Houthis vowed in early December to target any Israel-bound ship in the Red Sea, regardless of its ownership.

From bases along the Yemeni coast, the Houthis have attacked and harassed ships in the Red Sea as they traverse the Bab el-Mandeb Straits, a narrow maritime chokepoint between the Arabian Peninsula and Africa. The majority of the world’s oil passes through the strait from the Indian Ocean towards the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea.

The attacks have forced some major shipping companies to reroute around Africa, interrupting a crucial global trade route connecting Asia and the Middle East to Europe.

Among the attacks was the November hijacking of the MV Galaxy Leader in November. The cargo ship and its crew of 25 are being held hostage in Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah. On March 2, the Rubymar, a British-owned cargo ship, was the first vessel to be sunk by the Houthis after being hit by two missiles.

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