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Strike Shuts Israel's Haifa Port

FILE - An Israeli naval boat arrives at the Haifa port, northern Israel.

Workers at Israel's state-owned Haifa Port went on strike on Monday, shutting one of the major trade gateways, over a government plan to build private, competing ports.

“Every hour of the strike causes heavy damage and weighs on Israeli exports and imports,” said Chamber of Shipping vice-president David Castle. His statement said it was not clear when the strike would end.

Nearly all Israel's exports and imports are transported by ship, making the port workers unions among the most powerful in the country.

Tensions have been high in recent years over government plans to open two privately-run ports along the Mediterranean next to Ashdod, which is also state-run, and Haifa in the coming years.

Officials at the umbrella union for public sector employees, Histadrut, were not immediately reachable for comment.