Haifa Port Company Ltd.
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24 July 2017
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History

In the bay near Haifa there were adequate depths of water and the Carmel acted as a shield from strong south-westerly storms. It was natural therefore that more and more vessels came to the safe wharf in Haifa. This necessitated the provision of certain auxiliary services for boats such as a short pier and a new Customs House, and these were indeed constructed in the new township.

The first person to comprehend the tremendous possibilities of the town was Benjamin Zeev Herzl, the founder of political Zionism, who visited the Holy Land in 1898 and wrote a prophetic description of the future of Haifa, the important port, in his book "Alt-Neuland". Trial drillings were started back in 1920. Two years later the engineer Sir Frederick Palmer surveyed the entire coast of Palestine at the behest of the Mandate Authorities and confirmed that Haifa was the most suitable site for a deep water port. The port was officially opened on the 31st of October 1933. The rapid growth in the population of Haifa, which in 1936 numbered about one hundred thousand inhabitants, was of course, directly linked to the construction of the new Haifa port.

Haifa port has a glorious part in the history of the revival of the people of Israel by serving as the gateway for hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants and immigrants who arrived by sea during the period prior to and after the State came into being. The Second World War slowed the development of the port somewhat, but the end of the Mandate in 1948 and the establishment of the State gave a strong push to its growth once again. The War of Liberation and the sealing of the overland borders with Arab countries made Haifa the country's vital gateway to the entire world. The dynamic economic development of the young state made the speedy development of the port of prime importance.
It can be supposed that even in prehistoric times seamen found refuge from storms in Haifa bay under the lee of Mount Carmel. Haifa harbor is mentioned for the first time in the year 104 BC when Ptolemy Lathyrus of Cyprus landed a huge force in Shikmona port in order to wage war on Alexander Yanai the Jewish king.

When the Crusaders conquered Haifa in the year 1100, the place became an important and flourishing town which also served as the main port of Tiberias, the capital of the Galilee. During the Mameluke period the place degenerated to the rank of a small and neglected village although the maritime trade continued there. In the eighteenth century Haifa had a reputation of being a pirates lair.

The new town of Haifa owes its beginnings to the caprice of Daher El-Omer, the grand Sheikh of the Galilee who destroyed the village following a dispute he had with its inhabitants. In 1758 he decided to rebuild the town anew a little to the east of the former Haifa. The decision was probably influenced by the needs of shipping and commerce. Acre served as the main port for the entire region for two thousand years, but in the course of time the port had become clogged up with silt. At the same time the size of ships increased and these could anchor only in deep water.

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