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“If Israel does move by ground into Gaza, I would expect the unexpected,” says CEO of Dryad Global

Container shipping companies are currently continuing to maintain normal operations in the major box ports of Haifa and Ashdod in Israel, while the war between Hamas and Israel is continuing in a dramatic way with no one being able to predict what's coming next.

"It is difficult to speculate as to the next episodes of the conflict," confirms Corey Ranslem, CEO of Dryad Global, a UK-based maritime risk advisory and security firm.

Ranslem explains, "Israel has troops and military equipment along the border and is poised for a major ground offensive into Gaza. The Israeli military is also dealing with Hezbollah issues along their northern border. If Israel does move by ground into Gaza, I would expect the unexpected."

"It is hard to predict at this point what will happen in the larger region," he told Container News.

At this point, the only restriction we have seen by the ports of Haifa and Ashdod is about the acceptance of dangerous cargo.

"For Ashdod and Haifa, a restriction for acceptance of dangerous cargo has been implemented by the port and therefore we are no longer accepting bookings for dangerous cargo from or to Ashdod and Haifa," said German box carrier Hapag-Lloyd in its latest announcement.

Similarly, Danish container giant Maersk stated, "For dangerous goods, the Port of Haifa and the Port of Ashdod have both issued restrictions on specific items."

Israel-Hamas war: Impact on shipping and port operations, potential risks

However, cargo and container traffic in the two major ports of Israel has been operating fairly normally so far, with the majority of major shipping companies still accepting bookings in and out of Israeli ports.

Eli Bar-Yosef, acting CEO of Ashdod Port, said in a statement that Ashdod Port employees continue their routine work at a time when the port is operating with constant siren alerts for incoming missiles.

"They [Ashdod Port employees] continue to load and unload goods that are vital to keep the Israeli economy going, subject to the guidelines of the Home Front Command," he added.

Container News asked Corey Ranslem about the readiness and preparation of Israel to protect and secure those two ports.

Dryad Global's CEO said, "Israel has a good security regime within these ports, so I don’t expect that to change much. However, if there is a ground campaign, I would expect high security measures including the potential of military escorts for cargo ships in and out of these ports. There is also a substantial foreign maritime military presence in this region as well."

Corey Ranslem believes that shipping companies will try to maintain normal operations in the region as long as possible. "Right now, the conflict is contained in the area around Gaza with Ashkelon as the only port closure. If the conflict spreads to other areas of Israel that could potentially have an effect on port operations and shipping," he concluded.

Antonis Karamalegkos
Managing Editor

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