The Ashdod Port was evacuated temporarily on Monday after irregular radioactivity was detected emanating from an Israeli shipping container on a Chinese ship.
Port workers were instructed to clear out as a precaution by order of the authorities and were permitted to return to their jobs in mid-afternoon.
Environmental Protection Ministry officials sought to assure the public that the container posed no threat to public safety.
“At the instruction of the EPA, the container was transferred to an insulated area at the Ashdod Port,” a statement from the ministry said.
The container, which held industrial iron, was inspected by personnel from the Israel Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC), while a large contingent of police, bomb disposal crews, firefighters and Magen David Adom (MDA) medical units stood by in case of emergency.
The Ashdod Port authority said in a statement that operations had returned to normal after “minimal levels” of radioactivity had been identified. The source of the radioactivity was not explained, however.
Israeli ports have maintained a radiation monitoring system for some years, with the main aim being to prevent a “dirty bomb” attack in which explosives are mixed with radioactive materials.