TAIWAN : Taiwanese container shipping line Evergreen has declared force majeure on a shipment to the Israeli Port of Ashdod, with its Ever Cozy vessel diverted to Haifa further north due to safety concerns, according to a customer note.
This is one of the first force majeures declared since Hamas Islamists launched attacks on Israel on Oct. 7, amid preparations by Israel’s military to launch ground operations into Gaza in retaliation.
The Ever Cozy was sailing towards Haifa port on Tuesday, according to data from ship tracking and maritime analytics provider MarineTraffic.
Israel has vowed to annihilate Hamas Islamists after its fighters stormed through Israeli towns from Gaza, shooting civilians and seizing scores of hostages in the worst attack on civilians in Israel’s history.
While the smaller Ashkelon port, which is the closest terminal to Gaza, has shut Ashdod has remained opened although it has introduced restrictions on the transport of hazardous goods including flammable and explosive materials.
In a note to customers dated Oct. 16 and seen by Reuters, Evergreen said it was informed about the “persisting unsafe situation” at Ashdod port since Oct. 7.
“As the situation is beyond Evergreen Line’s control, we are formally declaring ‘force majeure’,” the advisory said.
“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.”
An Evergreen spokesperson declined to comment when contacted.
In the latest update, Ashdod port said on its website employees continued to work “at a time when the port is operating with constant siren alerts for incoming missiles”.
Three ships including an oil tanker remained at anchor waiting to enter Ashdod on Tuesday, according to MarineTraffic data.
There were around 10 ships inside the port including other container vessels.
The build up around Haifa has increased in recent days and 16 ships were anchored near the port on Tuesday, the MarineTraffic data showed. Ashdod and Haifa are vital goods gateways for Israel.
War risk insurance rates have soared more than ten fold in recent days to Israeli ports with growing concerns over an escalation in hostilities.
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the warship Bataan was heading near the coast of Israel and would include a Marine expeditionary unit, with a total force of about 2,000 personnel.
They have not been given a specific mission but could play a key role in any evacuation.
The Pentagon has the Ford carrier strike group in place off the cost of Israel and has ordered the Eisenhower strike group there too, but it will take about a week for it to get there.