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Report: Israel May Buy Terminal in Cyprus to Support Aid Corridor

Larnaca
A commercial pier at Larnaca, Cyprus, 2017 (USN file image)

Published Mar 11, 2024 7:17 PM by The Maritime Executive

Israel's transport ministry is sending a delegation of officials to Cyprus to look into the possibility of buying a port complex. The idea behind the state-backed investment would be to secure infrastructure to support Israel's national security, and provide a controlled location for staging relief and future reconstruction supplies for Gaza. 

The United States has launched an effort to build a temporary pier on the shores of northern Gaza, providing a landing point for emergency aid supplies for the civilian population. Gaza faces a humanitarian crisis due to the shutdown of truck deliveries over its borders, which are controlled by Israel, and the White House has mobilized forces to prepare for Joint Logistics Over the Shore (JLOTS), the well-rehearsed process of installing and operating a barge-based finger pier from an unimproved beachhead. Up to 1,000 personnel and multiple vessels will be involved in the project. 

Israel's Ministry of transport has dispatched Israel Ports Company Uzi Yitzhaki to buy a terminal in Cyprus to facilitate the inspection and approval of cargoes for this aid corridor, according to YNet. The estimated cost for the terminal is in the range of $140 million, though any final decision will have to have approval from the Israeli government. 

The Cyprus site would also serve as a backup in the event of renewed hostilities with Hezbollah, the Iran-backed militia that controls much of Lebanon. If tensions with Hezbollah began to threaten the security of the seaport at Haifa - the primary container-freight gateway for Israel - a port in Cyprus could provide a temporary transshipment point to reroute cargo to Eilat or Ashdod, according to YNet. 

The port project appears to align with recent reports that the U.S. maritime aid corridor has support from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - and may even have been his idea, according to the Jerusalem Post. Cyprus' foreign minister, who has been advocating for the corridor's creation, pushed back Monday and told the Cyprus Mail that "for much of the [journey] we were on our own."