Mar 02, 2021

In what many are calling a major ecological disaster, Israel’s stormy weather this past week has washed massive amounts of tar onto large parts of Israel’s Mediterranean shoreline.
Nature and Parks Authority Director-General Shaul Goldstein said that regarding the nation’s ecological disasters, the polluted beaches constitute “one of the direst we have ever seen in Israel,” adding that the cleanup efforts will take a long time.
Although the source of the tar is still yet known, the texture of the substance indicates that it probably arrived as a result of a gas or oil spill from a ship that passed by Israel’s coast.

Tar reaches the beaches of Haifa (screenshot)

Oil samples are now being tested from approximately ten suspected vessels in an effort to isolate the spill’s source. The Environmental Protection Ministry managed to narrow down the list of potential suspects that may have been responsible for the spill via satellite imaging. The ministry reported that the cleanup could take weeks, and can cost tens of millions of NIS.

The ministry stated that a flight that combed the shores on Saturday revealed that roughly 160 km. of Israel’s shoreline was damaged by the tar, from the beach of Ashkelon in Israel’s south to Rosh Hanikra in the north.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday: “I have asked that a report on the matter, which is still being investigated, be submitted to the next Cabinet meeting. The circumstances that led to this incident are not yet known. We are in contact with the heads of all the authorities.”

Several animals were discovered dead on the coast last week. This includes sea turtles and a whale calf on Nitzanim Beach covered in a film of tar.

Additionally, the satellite images also discovered several major polluted areas inside the sea itself, up to 500 m. distance from the coast, all of which are heading towards beaches in the Haifa area.
In response, the ministry closed all beaches in the Haifa Bay area until further notice.