“Animals are not freight” say Israeli animal welfare groups

The offloading of livestock at Israel’s Haifa, Ashdod and Eilat ports has consistently been delayed in recent weeks, according to Israel Against Live Shipments and Israel Animal Save. They said that they had documented what they considered to be shocking conditions, with cattle covered in faeces and showing signs of respiratory distress. The organizations also reported that the bodies of several calves had washed up on shore over the last two weeks.

The livestock concerned had arrived after either an up-to-three-week journey from Australia or up-to-two-week journey from Portugal. There had been delays of between 30 and 72 hours before the livestock was unloaded, because the Ministry of Agriculture has issued a release prohibiting the offloading on Sabbaths and holidays.

Ships continue to arrive on those days.

The Ministry has also indicated that it will only receive live animal shipments during regular work hours, between 07:30 and 16:00, although live export ships continue to arrive at all hours.

Offloading is typically allowed after a Ministry of Agriculture inspection. The animal welfare organizations said that, to date, no ship has been turned back. They documented the following delays:

  • May 24th – Julia from Portugal to Haifa’s Israel Shipyards – Offloading wait time: 36 hours
  • May 31st – Holstein from Portugal to Ashdod Port – Offloading wait time: 36 hours
  • June 7th – Maysora from Australia to the Port of Eilat – Offloading wait time: between 12 to 72 hours (offloading performed intermittently a few hours each time)
  • June 8th – Uranus II from Portugal to Haifa’s Israel Shipyards – Offloading wait time: 21 hours
  • June 8th – Alondra from Portugal to Haifa’s Israel Shipyards – Offloading wait time: 23 hours.

Spokesperson Yaron Lapidot said that “animals are not freight, and as long as the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture continues to treat them as if they were cargo, all the while they are responsible for the welfare of those animals, the circus of live exports will continue to operate. There seems to be no control over what goes on in live exports, like the wild west. As campaign leaders against the live animal imports in Israel, we will continue to act, and we will continue to pressure our government to ban all imports of live animals.”