Israel wants a $5 billion island off Gaza for a seaport, hotels, airport

The Israeli government is considering a proposal to build an artificial island off the Gaza Strip that a top official says would give Palestinians living in the besieged enclave their one and only seaport — and maybe a hotel and an international airport, too.

The Israeli minister of intelligence who is promoting the plan, Israel Katz, said the Jewish state is actively seeking financial partners for the $5 billion project.

Katz mentioned the Saudis and Chinese as possible builders of the port — or maybe a mysterious Israeli entrepreneur. He declined to name names.

Why would the Saudi monarch construct a billion-dollar seaport-hotel a few miles from the Zionists’ coast — when the two governments have no formal relations? That’s unknown.

The Israelis envision the port complex to be constructed atop a man-made island — dredged with sand from the sea bottom, measuring four square miles — that would be located three miles offshore and connected to the mainland by a two-lane bridge.

In Israel’s planning, the bridge is the crucial component in the scheme, allowing access to the port to be tightly controlled.

Katz conceded that so far all that exists is a paper study and some drawings. Yet he talked about the project in grand terms, describing it as a way to both guarantee Israel’s security and award Gaza a portal to the world.

Katz envisions a commercial port on the island that could handle goods coming into and out of Gaza. Currently, goods and people arrive via a crossing with Egypt, which has been closed for most of the last two years, and two others with Israel.

“And this would be just the beginning,’’ Katz said. “We would create electricity, desalination plants. This island will be an island of initiatives of all kinds.”

The Ministry of Transportation and Israel Ports, headed by Minister Israel Katz, has drawn up plans for how a seaport and airport built on an artificial island off the coast of the Gaza Strip would look. (Ministry of Transportation and Israel Ports)

SOURCE – Washington Post