Until the ammonia storage facility is moved to the Negev, as the government is planning, it obviously needs to be protected – and at a meeting of the Knesset State Control Committee, representatives of the Environment Ministry revealed that while most of the structure – its sides and its base – would be able to withstand a missile attack, its roof was not similarly protected.
According to officials who testified in the proceedings of the committee broadcast on the Knesset channel, the Homefront Security Ministry is to blame. The Environment Ministry officials said that they had been instructed by the security experts to protect the sides of the structure. As far as the top was concerned, there was no need to do so.
When MKs on the committee pointed to the various threats by Hizbullah – most recently last week, by Hizbullah terrorist leader Hassan Nasrallah threatened to turn the facility into a version of an atomic bomb, they said that they had brought up the matter with security personnel. According to the Homefront Security officials, however, there was no need to protect the roof, because “Nasrallah wouldn’t be crazy enough to bomb this place,” the Environment Ministry officials said.
Last week, the Hizbullah head said that the terror group had the capability to fire missiles at Israel that would directly target the ammonia storage site in Haifa Bay, long the bane of residents. “It would have the same effect as an atomic bomb, according to the Israelis themselves,” Nasrallah told supporters in a speech, as he fears that he would be targeted by the IDF if he emerges from his hiding place. “They have 15,000 tons of ammonia there, if one of our missiles would hit that site it would mean the deaths of tens of thousands – just like with a nuclear weapon.”
Also Tuesday, Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav implored Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to remove the industrial chemical depot from his city, saying that the threat to shell the site put as many as a million people in danger.
Lags in the moving plan’s implementation prompted Yahav’s call on Netanyahu to take action.
“We are alone in this battle,” Yahav told Army Radio. “There are a million people around this depot here. It is a gaseous material. It is very, very dangerous material.”
Yahav argued that it was incumbent on the Netanyahu government “to put up the money and not wait for the business sector. Health and danger are more important, the residents are 100 times more important, than any economic consideration.”
A decade ago, Israel relocated a gas depot from Pi Glilot, near Tel Aviv, after a bomb set off by Palestinian terrorists at the site almost caused a major conflagration.
Yahav said the Pi Glilot move also freed up lucrative real estate – a motive that would not apply for the Haifa depot.
“They (government authorities) don’t really take us into account, because we are talking about a depot that is in a port and to my regret there is no great property value,” he said.
Haifa is home to many other large industrial plants including Oil Refineries, Israel’s biggest refinery.