UNTERFÖHRING/NEW YORK (dpa-AFX) - The consequences of the Gaza war are endangering international shipping: Houthi rebels in Yemen attacked more than 50 merchant ships in the Red Sea between November 19 and the end of April, according to data from industrial insurer Allianz Commercial. As a result, traffic through the Suez Canal has now fallen sharply: at the beginning of the year, a good 40 percent fewer ships were passing through the canal than at peak times.

The Houthi rebels in Yemen are allied with Iran and, according to the US government, are also financed by Tehran. In the wake of the Gaza war, the militia is attacking ships in the Red Sea in order to disrupt trade with Israel, whose army has been fighting the Islamist Hamas in the Gaza Strip since October. For example, the freighter "Rubymar" sank at the beginning of March after an attack off the Yemeni coast.

As shipping in the Panama Canal is also suffering from low water levels due to drought, a second important sea route from the Atlantic to the Pacific has also been disrupted, according to Allianz.

New York-based shipping expert Rahul Khanna writes in his analysis that attacks on ships are a means for terrorists and armed militias to gain notoriety and damage global markets. In addition to conventional weapons, cyber attacks could also severely disrupt shipping traffic, according to the company. Allianz Commercial is the division of the Munich-based DAX-listed company that specializes in corporate and industrial customers, and shipping insurance is part of this business./cho/DP/mis