Date: Saturday April 4, 2020
Subject: Israel is on lockdown from the outside world, yet 60,000 live animals and crew are allowed in from other countries potentially carrying COVID-19.
A SEA OF VIRUSES?
Whilst the Israeli government and Health Ministry officials are closing air and land crossings to humans to try and tame the spread of the CoVID-19 virus, another potential threat to Israeli residents, remains luring. Every year, Israel imports approximately 700 thousand lambs and calves from foreign countries, via live export ships.
Foreign personnel on those ships can potentially come into direct contact with Israeli teams. The Ministry of Health and Agriculture are washing off their responsibility on the subject. About a week and a half ago, Israel's Population and Immigration Authority issued a directive that foreigners would not be allowed into the country, residents are not allowed to wander more than 100 meters from their home, however, 60,000 live animals will have reached Israel from foreign countries via 6 ships within a couple of weeks, from Europe and Australia, with crews having docked in those various countries, and potentially carrying the deadly virus.
Not only do the crews pose potential health contamination, but also since the host animal of the CoVID-19 has still not been identified as a sure one, and potential mutations of the virus are still developing. We, at Israel Against Live Shipments/Israel Animal Save (IALS), are concerned about potential contamination also from live animals arriving in our ports.
A publication indicated that previous Coronaviruses were transmitted via intermediate hosts (see below), some of which were unidentified, and one of which was Bovine,
according to the International Journal of Biological Sciences.
Although this topic is very recent and has not yet been sufficiently developed, we should not take unnecessary risks.
Locals residing close to the port said: "It is unbelievable for the Ministry of Agriculture is willing to potentially endanger Haifa residents in particular and Israeli residents in general, and continues the import of thousands of live animals with staff members from various countries" Haifa City Council member, Ms. Hila Laufer, requested the support of Haifa’s Mayor (Haifa is one of the major port cities) and expressed her concern over the potential risks. "We are not Israel's garbage dumpster," says Laufer. Various countries are trying to avoid taking unnecessary risks and have tightened their guidelines.
Kuwait also closed its doors to all marine shipments, including live animal imports.
In Europe, 43 MEPs demanded a complete suspension of live exports to non-EU countries to prevent the potential of the virus spreading.
IALS Spokesperson, Yaron Lapidot, stated: "We have been warning for years that alongside the cruelty seen continuously in live exports, we see the concern for a potential health risk in the import of live animals to Israel.
In the past, the Ministry of Agriculture stated that live exports can pose health risks and that it should be minimized.
However, the number of animals arriving at Israel’s ports keeps growing. And now, while the entire world in on lockdown, even though we are told that the CoVID-19 started in an open meat market, where animals are crammed in cages and slaughtered, the import of live animals continues. The assumption is that the Great Bubonic Plague in the 1300s was spread through ships arriving from China to Europe. At this time, the Israeli Agriculture and Health Ministries should be minimizing all potential risks, and this, in our opinion should include a complete freeze on all live animal imports to Israel”
The following is a response of the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture on the request of IALS to suspend immediately all live animal imports:
"Ministry of Agriculture does not know of countries that have stopped or restricted live animal movement, including shipments on their soil, due to concerns that animals will spread the coronavirus. According to leading international veterinary and health bodies (WHO, OIE, CDC), the precautions are taken for contamination from human to human, according to the information available, there is no justification for taking any measures to limit the movement of pets or farm animals, including live animal transports. We will continue to do our best to maintain the health of the public….our office continues to monitor the developments”
For more information, press only:
Yaron Lapidot: +972 52-866-7453 or Yaron@shiptohell.org
or Netanel Sheler: +972 52-648-4008
For more information on live exports to Israel, please visit: www.shiptohell.org