The number of ships calling at Israel ports is declining as the country’s war with terrorist group Hamas starts to impact the shipping industry.
Insurance technology company Concirrus has been monitoring the risk accumulation for underwriters within the Israeli Joint War Committee Listed Area (JWLA), which stretches along the entire length of its coastline.
In the week of 6 October, when Hamas launched its attack on Israel, the daily vessel count in the JWLA area averaged between 140 and 150 vessels.
This week, the figure fell between 110 and 120 ships in the region.
The closure of the port of Ashkelon has had an impact. AIS data shows there are currently no vessels around the tanker port, which is the closest terminal to the Gaza Strip.
However, local protection and indemnity correspondents report that although the port is closed, vessels are allowed to unload at sea buoys.
A decision on allowing vessels to discharge is being made following an assessment of the security situation, which is changing daily, according to a note from the UK P&I Club.
Ashdod remains open, although ships calling at the port must declare any hazardous materials, which has caused some congestion, according to reports.
Some operators have decided to avoid the port, raising the question of whether Ashdod remains a safe port under the insurance terms.
War risk underwriters have already reportedly hiked rates by as much as tenfold in response to the growing risk.
Taiwanese liner operator Evergreen has called force majeure on a scheduled port call at Ashdod by its 1,778-teu feeder container ship Ever Cozy (built 2021). The vessel will now divert to Haifa, where cargoes destined for Ashdod will be unloaded.
Evergreen said there is a “persisting unsafe situation” at Ashdod.
“All cargoes which were originally destined for Ashdod, Israel will be discharged at Port of Haifa, Israel. Thereafter, the subject contract of carriage is treated as terminated, and all carrier’s responsibilities shall cease,” Evergreen said in a note to shippers.
AP Moller-Maersk has said it is continuing to take bookings to and from Israel, although there are restrictions on unloading dangerous goods in Ashdod and Haifa.
Ashdod has closed its website for security reasons.
Israel’s main ports of Haifa, Hadera and Eilat remain open as usual.