Israel’s High Court on Wednesday stayed the order to empty an ammonia storage tank in Haifa, which has been the target of threats by the Iran-backed terror group Hezbollah, Bloomberg News reported.
The Haifa District Court initially mandated the tank be closed by Saturday following a municipal report raising fears that it could rupture, releasing a toxic cloud that could kill 16,000 people in the port city. An enemy such as Hezbollah could also strike the ship making monthly deliveries of the chemical to the storage facility, leading to the death of 100,000 people.
However, final closure has been stayed as the court hears an appeal from Haifa Chemicals Ltd., co-owner with the government of the facility and Israel’s biggest consumer of ammonia. A panel of experts has been convened to find an alternative way to store the essential but potentially deadly chemical in Israel.
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has threatened to kill tens of thousands of Israelis by targeting the ammonia tank with the organization’s vast arsenal of rockets. A video released earlier this month by the terror group reinforced its threat against the tank and other critical infrastructure in Israel.
According to Yossi Kuperwasser, a project director at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and former research head of Israeli military intelligence, Hezbollah’s goal in threatening the storage tank “is to turn it into a tool to sow fear and gain deterrence vis-a-vis Israel.”
[Photo: Chris Yunker / Flickr]