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Two Israeli Ports Closed After Rocket Attacks

ashdod port
Ashdod Port (Amos Meron / CC BY-SA 3.0)

Published May 16, 2021 9:16 PM by Ankur Kundu

The renewed conflict between the Israeli military and Palestinian militants has spilled over into the maritime sector. The Israeli ports of Ashdod and Ashkelon have closed down following attacks on port infrastructure and surrounding facilities.

With Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) firing a volley of 2,000 rockets towards Tel Aviv, some of them were bound to strike key Israeli port infrastructures in Ashdod and Ashkelon. Local witnesses have released footage showing the impact of rockets at the port facility of Ashdod and areas beyond the main anchorage on the mainland. The footage also shows the vessels Mona and Ahmet Onel surviving narrow misses by rocket attacks. AIS data from MarineTraffic indicates that Mona has since left the port.

 “Port and energy infrastructure are at this stage assessed to be proxy targets with any damage resulting from the indiscriminate nature of attacks however such targets are known to be part of the wider strategic intent of Hamas and the PIJ,” said maritime security consultancy Dryad Global in an assessment.

In a separate incident, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigade, the military wing of Hamas, attempted to attack Israeli offshore gas platforms using rockets. The unguided munitions did not come close and the installations were not damaged, according to the Israeli Defense Forces.

“Ports and offshore infrastructure remain at heightened risk with attacks and associated damage a realistic possibility,” wrote Dryad. “It is assessed that there is no stated intent to target wider commercial shipping.”