Israel-Palestine conflict set to create maritime challenges while trade continues with caution


The Israel-Palestine conflict, marked by recent violence between Israel and Hamas, has sent ripples through the shipping and maritime industry, leading international companies to issue cautionary advisories and adapt their operations in the region, as container logistics platform Container xChange writes in this Analysis piece.

“In light of recent developments in the Middle East, including the outbreak of war in Israel and its vulnerability to missile attacks and the incursion of opposing militias, the security of transporting goods through the port of Haifa has become uncertain,” said Hossein Norouz Fashkhami, a senior marketing expert from the Middle East.

“The transit of containers, especially hazardous materials, and the arrival of commercial vessels greatly emphasize the importance of security on this route. Such insecurity or potential terrorist attacks could lead to a shift in the transportation of goods.”

Maersk, a major player in the industry, reassured stakeholders by announcing that its port operations across Israel’s key terminals are functioning without disruption. MSC echoed this sentiment, asserting that Israel’s major terminals are operational, enabling them to facilitate cargo delivery.

However, the maritime industry is aware of the security situation, and companies such as MSC remain vigilant, pledging to monitor the situation closely and heed government guidance. This underscores the industry’s adaptability and resilience in the face of geopolitical tensions.
The specific impact on individual ports includes as follows:

– Port of Ashdod: This port, situated a mere 50 kilometres from the Gaza border, operates in an ’emergency mode’ only, subject to potential missile attacks. Furthermore, restrictions on vessels carrying Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) remain in effect.
– Port of Haifa: the port of Haifa, encompassing the Haifa Bay port and Israel shipyard, continues with business as usual, undeterred by the conflict.
– Port of Ashkelon: Located just 15 kilometres from the Gaza border, the Port of Ashkelon is severely impacted, rendering it incapable of normal operations due to missile threats. Vessels can only discharge cargo while moored at sea buoys, highlighting the risk and necessity for adaptive measures.
– Port of Hadera: The port of Hadera carries on without disruption, maintaining its regular functions.
– Port of Eilat: The port of Eilat similarly remains operational, showcasing the industry’s commitment to ensuring the flow of maritime trade.

Beyond the ports, several global companies with a presence in Israel have been forced to adjust their operations. Chevron, the second-largest U.S. oil and gas producer, was directed by Israel’s energy ministry to shut down the Tamar natural gas field off the country’s northern coast. Adani Ports, operator of the Haifa Port, assured stakeholders of operational readiness while closely monitoring the situation and having a business continuity plan in place.

The Israel-Palestine conflict serves as a testament to the shipping and maritime industry’s ability to adapt, demonstrating that despite challenges and disruptions, trade and operations can persist, albeit with the necessary caution and vigilance.