Attacks on commercial vessels by Yemen’s Houthis are a threat to global shipping routes and seaborne traffic to Israel although there has been no direct impact on port activity, Israel’s Port of Ashdod said on Tuesday.
The Iran-backed Houthis said on Tuesday they carried out a military operation against a Norwegian commercial tanker in their latest protest against Israel's bombardment of Gaza, underlining the risks of a conflict that has shaken the Middle East.
"We emphasize that we are doing everything in order to act fully and to maintain open gateways to Israel despite the challenges of the war," the port said in a statement.
Israel relies on its maritime trade for imports and its exports. Ashdod in the south and Haifa in the north are the country's biggest ports.
The smaller port of Ashkelon, which is the closest to Gaza, has shut for the moment due to the war.
Norway's Mowinckel Chemical Tankers, owner of the Strinda tanker which was attacked by the Houthis, said on Tuesday that, while there was no Israeli link to the ownership or management of the vessel, the ship was "tentatively nominated" by her charterers for a cargo out of Ashdod in January.
"Owners had an option to cancel the contract if such a worsening of the situation would take place," Mowinckel Chemical Tankers said.
"Upon the recommendation of our security advisors, it was decided to withhold this information until the vessel and her crew were in safe waters."
The Port of Ashdod declined to comment, but added in the statement that "we are prepared and are working to absorb any operational activity it terms of loading and discharging that is required".
Reporting by Jonathan Saul; Editing by Christina Fincher and Mark Potter