Malaysia bans Israeli firm’s ships from its ports in response to Gaza war

Iman Muttaqin Yusof
Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia bans Israeli firm’s ships from its ports in response to Gaza war Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim (center) waves as he arrives with his wife Wan Azizah to support pro-Palestinian demonstrators during a rally at the Bukit Jalil indoor stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Oct. 24, 2023.
[Mohd. Rasfan/AFP]

Malaysia on Wednesday banned an Israeli shipping company, vessels using the Israeli flag and those headed there from docking at its ports, saying the move was a response to the Jewish state’s actions in Gaza.

The ban, effective immediately, was a reaction to what the Malaysian government said were Israel’s violations of international law in its war against Hamas fighters in Gaza, the Palestinian enclave where the death toll has reached nearly 20,000.

“The Malaysian government has decided to block Israel-based shipping company ZIM from anchoring in any Malaysian port,” Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said in a statement, referring to a publicly held Israeli cargo shipping company.

“In addition, Malaysia has also decided to no longer accept ships flying the Israeli flag to dock in the country. Malaysia has imposed a ban on any ship that is heading to Israel from loading cargo at Malaysian ports,” Anwar said.

ZIM Integrated Shipping Services Ltd. ships were allowed to dock in Malaysia starting in 2002, and permission was extended in 2005 to cargo vessels, but these authorizations were canceled as of Wednesday, Anwar said.

“These sanctions are a response to Israel’s actions that disregard the basic humanitarian principles and violate international law through the ongoing massacre and continuous cruelty against the Palestinian people,” Anwar’s statement read.

The ban will also apply to a ZIM ship scheduled to arrive Dec. 26 at Malaysia’s Port Klang. It will be denied entry, said Anthony Loke, Malaysia’s transport minister.

A container ship is anchored at the North Port in Port Klang outside Kuala Lumpur Jan. 8, 2009. [Bazuki Muhammad/Reuters]

Anwar said he’s confident the ban won’t harm his country’s commercial activities.

Port Klang is Southeast Asia’s second-largest port and a key intermediate hub for cargo intended for other destinations. It is also ranked as the 12th busiest port in the world.

ZIM officials did not immediately respond to a BenarNews email requesting comment.

Much of the world is calling for a ceasefire in Gaza where the death toll is mounting and the destruction of civil and health infrastructure has led to a dire humanitarian crisis. 

Israel’s military actions in Gaza began following the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas that killed about 1,100 people, according to an Agence France-Presse report relying on data from Israel’s social security agency.

Anwar has been among the most outspoken of the world’s Muslim leaders in his support for Palestinians. Malaysia has refused to end ties with Hamas, despite pressure from the United States.

Medical equipment is scattered outside the emergency ward of the Indonesian Hospital at the edge of the Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, Nov. 24, 2023. [Mohammad Ahmad/AFP]

Indonesian Hospital in Gaza

Malaysia’s ban comes even as several international shipping companies, including Maersk and the Mediterranean Shipping Co. (MSC), have suspended their operations in the Suez Canal connecting the Mediterranean and Red seas following attacks on ships by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels. 

The rebels have said the attacks are payback against Israel for its military campaign in Gaza.

In neighboring Indonesia, meanwhile, a humanitarian organization on Wednesday denounced Israel, saying it had occupied the Indonesian Hospital in Gaza and was using it as a military base, which was against international law.

Sarbini Abdul Murad, the chairman of Medical Emergency Rescue Committee (MER-C), which operates the hospital, said Israel Defense Forces (IDF) troops took control of the hospital two weeks ago.

He also called on the World Health Organization to send a team to investigate.

“We urge Israel to abide by international law and make the hospital a neutral place,” Sarbini told a news conference.

“Israel must leave the hospital and stop using it as a shield.”

Pizaro Gozali Idrus in Jakarta contributed to this report.


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