Cattle Die As Maysora Docks in Israel

Credit: Israel Against Live Shipments
Credit: Israel Against Live Shipments

Published Jun 16, 2019 10:34 PM by The Maritime Executive

Israeli media have reported that dozens of cattle have died as a result of hot, crowded conditions while the livestock were being disembarked from the livestock carrier Maysora.

The Maysora, carrying 20,000 cattle and sheep, arrived in Eilat on the morning of June 7. Reportedly, workers began disembarking the animals from the ship Friday night and didn’t finish the operation for five days. 

The Israeli Agricultural Ministry is reported to have determined that 34 calves died on board and 30 died after disembarking. Israel Against Live Shipments and Israel Animal Save have released footage that some viewers may find disturbing.

“If that is not bad enough, the footage of the unloading in temperatures that killed people that week was nothing short of appalling with electric prodding and stomping of down animals,” said the Australian professional veterinarian organization Vets Against Live Export in a blog.

Recent footage of livestock being beaten at a port in Croatia has highlighted the need for those involved in livestock transport to revisit the standards set out by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). Over 180 nations, including Israel and Croatia, are OIE member countries. As part of its mandate, the OIE develops international standards to improve animal health and welfare worldwide. By becoming members, countries commit to implement these standards and incorporate them into their national legislation.

The standards state that animals that have little or no room to move should not be subjected to physical force or goads and other aids which compel movement. The use of goads should be limited to battery-powered goads on the hindquarters of pigs and large ruminants and never on sensitive areas such as the eyes, mouth, ears, anogenital region or belly. Such instruments should not be used on horses, sheep and goats of any age, or on calves or piglets. Useful and permitted goads include panels, flags, plastic paddles, flappers (a length of cane with a short strap of leather or canvas attached), plastic bags and rattles; they should be used in a manner sufficient to encourage and direct movement of the animals without causing undue stress.

For several weeks now, the offloading of livestock at Israel's Haifa, Ashdod and Eilat ports has been delayed, and Israel Against Live Shipments and Israel Animal Save have documented what they consider to be “shocking conditions” with cattle covered in feces and some showing signs of respiratory distress. There has been a delay of 30-72 hours before they have been unloaded, as the Ministry of Agriculture has issued a release prohibiting the offloading on Sabbaths and holidays and has indicated that it will only receive live animal shipments during regular work hours.

In May 2018, 60 Israeli Rabbis called for an end to live shipments to the nation, saying it was “neither the way of the Torah nor of human morality to allow such cruelty to animals.” Nevertheless, reports the Times of Israel, 685,000 calves and lambs were shipped to Israel in 2018, compared with around 500,000 in 2017 — a rise of 37 percent.

The issue of sending livestock from Australia's winter to the Middle East summer has been the subject of debate in Australia after whistleblower footage was released on 60 Minutes after thousands of sheep died of heat stress on the Awassi Express. Australia's industry has agreed not to ship sheep during Australia's winter months. Although the Maysora left Australia late in Autumn, she arrived in Israel in June.