The Israel-Palestine conflict, as of October 17, 2023, remains a complex and evolving situation. Customs and regulation authorities continue to function, but border crossings have experienced closures and restrictions, impacting the movement of goods. Heightened security measures and disruptions are evident in roads, airports, seaports, and rail services in central and southern Israel. This dynamic situation will require transportation professionals to prepare for potential delays and adapt accordingly.
Here’s a breakdown of key transportation points and the latest updates as of October 17, 2023:
- Major international airlines have suspended flights to Israel, resulting in substantial disruptions.
- Delays are anticipated, and extra fuel is recommended for flights to Israel.
- Ben Gurion International Airport (TLV) remains open but with expected delays.
- El Al continues to be operational.
According to reliable sources, Israel’s ports are witnessing an increasing backlog of ships as the country ramps up its shipping operations. The Israeli Navy controls all sea traffic in areas around and near the Ports of Ashdod and Ashkelon.
- Port of Ashdod: Located just 50 kilometers from the Gaza border, the port of Ashdod is operating in “emergency mode.” Special restrictions apply to vessels carrying hazardous materials into Ashdod.
- Port of Ashkelon: Situated 15 kilometers from the Gaza border, the port is not operating as usual. Vessels can only discharge cargo while moored at sea buoys.
- Port of Haifa: The Port of Haifa, which also includes Haifa Bay Port and Israel Shipyard Port, is operating as usual. The Home Front Command regulates the handling of hazardous materials in the port, designating specific storage areas for different types of HAZMAT and requiring ship agents to provide a 24-hour advance notice for incoming HAZMAT-carrying ships.
- Port of Hadera: The port of Hadera is operating as usual.
- Port of Eilat: The Port of Eilat is operating as usual.
- Hadarom Container Terminal: HCT is working daily until 19:00.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have closed main roads near the border with the Gaza Strip. Inland services, including road and rail, are fully operational in most areas around the country, except for those around the Gaza strip.
- Cargo operations at the Allenby/King Hussein/al-Karama Bridge are partly operational between 08:00–16:30. The services are available for palletized cargo (both import and export) and cement (silo in bulk). Food items are given the highest priority, ensuring the smooth flow of essential goods. However, certain restrictions apply to motor vehicles, sand shipments, and scrap iron transfers.
- Cargo operations at the Jordan River/Sheikh Hussein Border Crossing are open, subject to availability of workers, between 08:30–17:00 for imported fresh produce, but no handling of dangerous goods. Priority will be given to reefer containers arriving from Haifa. Freight forwarders providing land bridge services between Israel and Jordan to the United States and Europe have been impacted because the border crossing has been closed.
- Nitzana Border Crossing between Israel and Egypt is open for clearing imported goods only.
- Yitzhak Rabin/Arava Crossing Between Israel and Jordan, near Eilat, is operational.
Insurance and War Risk Premium
Insurers have imposed an additional war risk insurance premium on vessels calling Israeli ports. To maintain service to and from Israel, ZIM will charge the war risk premium on all cargo to and from Israel. This surcharge is subject to changes every 24 hours and will be updated accordingly.
Possibilities to Consider and the Need to Manage Risk
The Israel-Hamas war introduces several uncertainties with direct and indirect impacts on the logistics and transportation industry:
- Shipping Chokepoint Risks: The conflict’s escalation could risk shipping chokepoints, such as the Suez Canal and the Strait of Hormuz. Any disruptions to these critical waterways would have far-reaching implications for global trade routes and the movement of goods. Ships may face unexpected delays and route changes, which inevitably affect supply chains and logistics planning.
- Land Transportation Bottlenecks: The closures and restrictions at border crossings and land routes could create logistical holdups, impacting the movement of goods regionally and beyond. Companies relying on timely deliveries should brace for interruptions and consider contingency plans to mitigate these bottlenecks.
- Trade Disruptions: The Israel-Hamas conflict has the potential to disrupt Israel’s exports to major global markets. These markets include economic powerhouses like China, the United States, Turkey, Germany, Italy, and India. Such disruptions can ripple through various industries, creating uncertainties and supply chain challenges. Businesses must anticipate potential delays.
- Tech Industry Challenges: Israel’s tech sector, a significant part of the GDP, may face manufacturing disruptions due to conflict. High-tech exports to China and the U.S. may encounter imminent challenges. If the situation escalates further, the tech industry may witness short-term diversions of resources.
- Oil Price Surge: In the event of a more severe escalation, Bloomberg Economics estimates that oil prices could surge to as high as $150 per barrel. Such a price surge can significantly impact businesses across sectors
- Trade Project Uncertainty: Ambitious projects like the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC), designed as a Western counterpart to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, face uncertainties in light of the conflict. The conflict introduces unforeseen variables that may impact the development and execution of these, and many other, projects.
Due to the capacity and limitations imposed by the conflict, please be prepared for potential shipment delays. It’s crucial to keep a close eye on the evolving situation and adjust your logistics plans accordingly. We are here to support you through these challenges and keep your cargo moving.
The information has been obtained from “Swords of Iron” Bulletin, published by The Israeli Federation of International Freight Forwarders and Customs Clearing Agents.