The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared his government’s plans to close the ports of Haifa and Ashkelon to freight would be “a day of disgrace” and “a catastrophe”.
The cabinet announced that the government will “reduce the capacity of the ports to a point where there will be no room for shipping at all”, according to a statement issued late on Monday by Netanyahu.
The decision follows a decision last month by a national court to overturn a ban on the construction of new Jewish homes in the coastal Israeli town of Sderot.
The new regulations will also impose a ban from using any vessel to move goods between the ports and the sea.
The Israeli port of Haaretz is one of the busiest in the world, handling some 1.4 million tonnes of cargo a day.
Haifa is the second busiest port in the Israeli port network, handling about one million tonnes.
In February, Haifa was named the “world’s most congested port” after a massive traffic jam forced nearly 2 million passengers to travel to Israel from Europe and the Middle East.
In response, the Israeli government ordered the closure of the port, which it says has a capacity of 5 million tonnes a day, as a result of the current congestion.
Haaretz’s mayor, Gilad Katz, told Al Jazeera that the closures would have a devastating impact on Haifa’s residents, who have been living there for generations.
“We are going to have to leave, our family will have to move, our children will have a difficult time coming back,” Katz said.
“A day without Haifa will be a day of humiliation.” “
There will be some loss of jobs, but it’s not enough.”
“A day without Haifa will be a day of humiliation.”
The Haifa port was established in 1967 as the second port in Israel after the port of Ashkelons, the second largest city in the country.
But after the Israeli army and the Palestinian Authority (PA) seized control of the Palestinian coastal enclave in 1981, the port was closed in 1993, as part of an attempt to force the return of the Palestinians to their former homeland.
Since then, the city has been closed to international cargo.
The closure of HaIFA was the first time since 1967 that the Palestinian population was denied the right to move freely in and out of the area.
The Palestinians claim that Israel has breached international law by imposing an indefinite blockade on the coastal strip and other areas.