According to Reuters, Israeli ports are experiencing a growing backlog of ships as the nation intensifies its shipping operations, even as military preparations for a potential ground assault on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip are underway, according to credible sources and data.
In response to a recent attack by Hamas fighters on Israeli towns, during which civilians were targeted and hostages taken, Israel has pledged to eradicate the organization, marking the most significant assault on civilians in the country’s history.
The persistent threat of rocket barrages, particularly in southern Israel, has led to the closure of the nearby Ashkelon port. Ashdod port, the largest in the region, has imposed restrictions on the transport of hazardous materials, resulting in slower transits.
However, the Ashdod port has continued its operations, vowing to supply Israel’s economy without interruption, even amid wartime conditions.
Data from ship tracking and maritime analytics provider MarineTraffic indicates that at least three cargo and dry bulk ships heading for Ashdod have halted in nearby waters, with three more vessels, including an oil tanker and a container ship, en route to the port.
Presently, approximately 13 ships, including cargo, container, and dry bulk vessels, are docked within Ashdod port, as indicated by MarineTraffic data.
Separate data reveals that at least three laden dry bulk ships are waiting off Haifa in northern Israel. Haifa and Ashdod are Israel’s most significant and vital ports.
The Port of Haifa, which handles various cargo types, including dry bulk goods, has affirmed its continuous operations, even during the weekend. It aims to accommodate various cargo types, including diverted shipments from Ashdod.
MSC, a leading container shipping line, reported increased waiting times at Ashdod due to heightened security checks and labor shortages, with circumstances subject to rapid change.
The Israeli Economy Ministry has acknowledged a manpower shortage that has hindered the transportation and replenishment of inventories due to increased consumption. However, it emphasized that there is no supply shortage and discouraged hoarding of food.
In comparison to other ports, ships typically experience longer wait times when docking in Israel. In recent years, the government has been privatizing ports and opening new ones to enhance efficiency and competition.
In response to the recent attacks, marine war insurance rates have surged more than tenfold, with some underwriters reevaluating their coverage provisions for Ashdod, although Haifa remains unaffected.
While Ashdod and Haifa ports account for only 0.4% of global container throughput, a further escalation of hostilities beyond Israel’s borders could introduce risks to critical shipping chokepoints in the region. Container xChange, an online logistics platform, warns that the Suez Canal and the Strait of Hormuz, vital waterways for various vessels, could face disruptions depending on the conflict’s expansion and duration.
The Marshall Islands registry, a prominent shipping flag, has raised the security level for Israel’s ports and territorial waters to their highest in response to the increased threat of collateral damage to merchant vessels. Vessels linked to Israel or the United States are considered at a heightened risk of attack within specific regions, including Israeli territorial waters, the Arabian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, Gulf of Oman, and Red Sea areas.