Updated 11 December 2023
The situation in Israel and Gaza and the surrounding sea areas remains volatile and we recommend assessing all port calls in Israel on a case-by-case basis, particularly when the voyage includes transiting the Southern Red Sea.
The Israel-Gaza conflict has impacted not just the security situation in Israeli ports. Vessels sailing in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea are warned to exercise caution, and threats related to the geopolitical tensions in the Southern Red Sea region have escalated even further, particularly for assets with a link to Israel. The situation is evolving, and in a statement on 9 December 2023, Yemen’s Houthi movement warned international shipping companies against dealing with Israeli ports as all ships in the Red Sea bound for Israeli ports, regardless of their nationality, will be defined to be Israeli linked and a target for its armed forces.
For more information on the Israel-Gaza conflict, please visit our hot topic page on the subject.
Israel - ports situation
According to our local correspondents, Israeli ports continue to operate as normal despite the ongoing war. Ashkelon port, Israel’s southernmost port in the Mediterranean, is officially working but may be closed on short notice due to its geographic proximity to the Gaza Strip. Permission to berth or discharge cargo at Ashkelon will therefore be granted on a case-by-case basis. Ashdod port, which is less than 20 km north of Askelon, has remained open and operational since the Hamas attack on 7 October. However, authorities have implemented strict entry procedures for vessels carrying some hazardous materials.
Other Israeli ports, including Haifa, Hadera and Eilat, are currently operating normally. This is true even if there have been recent reports of missiles being launched from Yemen towards Eilat. Threats to Israel’s southern ports may result in vessels being diverted to other ports, which may cause congestions and delays. However, as the situation continues to evolve, the status of Israeli ports can also change.
The correspondents further advise that vessels operating in Israeli waters have encountered GPS interference and this should be accounted for when navigating the area.
Advice is likely to evolve quickly
The situation in Israel remains volatile and we recommend ship operators and their masters trading to Israeli ports to carefully assess the risks involved in all port calls on a case-by-case basis and:
- make frequent checks with local sources of information, e.g. vessel agents, local authorities, and/or Gard’s correspondent, to obtain the most up-to-date and reliable security information available at any given time,
- follow advice received from their flag administrations and port authorities regarding applicable ISPS security levels, and
- review their relevant security and contingency plans and apply them accordingly.
Owners and managers should also ensure that seafarers on vessels heading towards Israel are aware of any imminent security threats in the region. Decisions on crew shore leaves should always be taken with the prevailing local security situation in mind.
As Israel is already included in the Joint War Committee’s (JWC) Listed Areas for Hull War, Piracy, Terrorism and Related Perils, we also recommend conferring with the vessel’s war insurer well in advance of arrival at any Israeli port.