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Rocket hits crude oil storage tank at Trans-Israel pipeline: reports

London — A fire broke out at the Trans-Israel or Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline in Ashkelon, Israel, after a rocket from Gaza hit a crude oil storage tank on May 11, according to local media reports.

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Violence has escalated in recent days, with rockets fired at Israeli cities from the Gaza Strip and the Israeli military carrying out retaliatory air strikes in Gaza. Media reports said civilians have been killed on both sides.

"Firefighters are still working to control the large fire blazing the trans-Israel energy pipeline in Ashkelon, after a rocket from Gaza hit a container [tank] at the plant during the rocket fire Tuesday evening," The Jerusalem Post reported.

The 600,000 b/d crude pipeline connects the Red Sea port city of Eilat in southern Israel to the Mediterranean port city of Ashkelon. There are also separate pipelines running between Ashkelon and the nearby refinery in Ashdod, and between Ashkelon and the Haifa refinery.

Ashkelon is also home to many independent oil storage tanks used by a number of international oil companies and trading houses.

On May 12, Chevron shut the Tamar gas platform offshore Israel due to the recent events.

Tor Wennesland, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, in a comment on Twitter May 12 said the situation was escalating toward a "full-scale war."

The line is operated by Israel's state-owned Europe-Asia Pipeline Co., or EAPC. A representative at EAPC was unavailable for comment.

EAPC recently inked an agreement with an UAE-based company to transport oil from the Persian Gulf state and Eastern markets to the West and vice versa, via pipelines linking the Mediterranean to the Red Sea.

EAPC was set up as a joint venture by Israel and Iran in 1968 before ties were cut after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. It is now looking at growing its international presence.