Shipping containers wash up in Ashkelon, thousands fight to claim the contents

Stormy weather throughout the country caused nine shipping containers to drift from their ship which was docked near the breakwater in the city, three of which later washed up to the shore.

 Citizens collect goods on the beach in Ashkelon, Wednesday morning December 28, 2022.  (photo credit: AVI ROKACH/WALLA)
Citizens collect goods on the beach in Ashkelon, Wednesday morning December 28, 2022.
(photo credit: AVI ROKACH/WALLA)

In contrast to the divided political situation, thousands of people from all sectors arrived on the shores of Ashkelon on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, gathering products that had washed up onto the shore from three large shipping containers.

Stormy weather caused nine shipping containers to drift from their ship, which was docked near the city’s breakwater, three of which later washed up on the shore of Ashkelon. One held electronics and jewelry and another contained plastic items.

The lure of the shipping containers drew thousands to the shore – Jewish, Arab, secular and religious – despite the cold weather.

Trash or treasure?

Wringing out his wet clothes in the parking lot, Ashkelon resident Ohad explained that “everyone is in the water here, I came in too. It’s a little cold but I managed to take out some blankets, glasses and household utensils.”

One resident told Ynet: “It is a biblical commandment to collect this stuff. Either it will get thrown out or it will pollute the ocean.”

 Citizens collect goods on the beach in Ashkelon, Wednesday morning December 28, 2022.  (credit: AVI ROKACH/WALLA) Citizens collect goods on the beach in Ashkelon, Wednesday morning December 28, 2022. (credit: AVI ROKACH/WALLA)

In videos, people can be seen stripping down to their underwear and wading into the water, using power tools and wire cutters to open up the tightly-sealed containers.

According to journalist Matan Tzuri on Twitter, the containers had a wide variety of goods including infant care products, such as pacifiers and bottles, and even a refrigerator.

“Everything is here, from disposable containers to household items... even blankets,” said Maor.

Sound Spa Insurance owner Daniel Krikonetz, who ensured the containers, told 103FM that “there was nothing left. They completely looted it. I don’t understand how people dove into the sea in the middle of the day for it. It could’ve ended in tragedy.”

Yasser came to Ashkelon with his van all the way from Beersheba.

“We came because we heard there were all kinds of things being thrown into the water,” he explained. “Some of us went in and left with loot.”

One local believes the goods only reached the beaches because of Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman.

“You saw what Liberman said, what happened? Liberman said not to buy and raised the prices for us. Look, God gave us a gift.”