Israel’s petrochemical facilities are key strategic targets in a highly volatile region. The decision to position the Leviathan gas rig close to shore prompted widespread warnings, including by Prof. Shaul Horev, former Navy Chief and Head of Israel’s Atomic Energy Committee, who claimed that an attack to a nearshore platform could endanger Israel’s national security, shutting down desalination plants and jeopardizing electricity production.
Moreover, in a sobering report, former Raphael missile expert, Yeshayahu Schatzberger, also wrote that “Iran and Hezbollah currently have the missile capacity to strike the Leviathan rig … as well as related condensate, gas facilities and Haifa’s refinery.”
Unfortunately, these expert warnings [link to relevant text in “Expert Warnings] were unheeded by Israel’s Ministry of Energy and the nearshore Leviathan rig began operations in January 2020, accompanied by Hezbollah threats.
An attack would not be a first for local petrochemical facilities. During the May 2021 conflict, Hamas hit a gas pipeline in Ashdod, causing Chevron to shutdown the nearby Tamar processing facility (located 14 miles offshore the neighboring city of Ashkelon). In 2019, a massive rocket attack from Gaza also forced Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz to shut down Tamar, and Jihadist extremists have sabotaged the Egypt-Israel pipeline running through the Sinai Peninsula on numerous occasions.
These events drive home the dangers of coupling an inherently unsafe industry – involving highly volatile and environmentally-damaging materials – with the strife-filled Middle East and are one of the key factors motivating the relentless efforts by IHG and many others to encourage both Israel’s removal of polluting industries from population centers and rapid transition to renewables.
- Read more about the decision to position the rigs near Israel’s coast. [Link to Q&A].
- Read more expert concerns about Israel’s petrochemical industry [link to “What Experts are Saying”.]