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Israel facing the worst ecological disaster in its history: Oil Spill



Almost the entire Israeli coastline is subject to oil spills. An oil spill that is not yet under control according to the authorities.

Thousands of people came to clean up the disaster and many fell ill.

The Nature and Parks Authority asks not to come without protective clothing.

Israel facing Oil Spill

1. Backgrounds

Really is the worst ecological disaster that the country has ever known.

It is in these terms that the newspaper Yediot Aharonot (newspaper of Israeli) evokes the tons of fuel oil that stick to the beaches of Israel, victim of an oil spill.

In total, 170 kilometers of sand would be soiled by oil, or 40% of the country's coastline, reports Courrier international.

The daily Haaretz believes that this is the "worst maritime pollution in the country for decades.

The marine fauna is already affected by this oil spill, on Thursday, February 18.

The corpse of a whale calf stranded on the beach of Nitzanim, in the south of the country.

The young cetacean, ten meters long, was autopsied: it had engulfed large quantities of oil.

2. Details

Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel said an oil leak was identified about 50 kilometers off the coast a week ago.

 That one of the ten ships in the area at the time may have been responsible for the disaster.

Black stripes could be seen from Haifa, in the north of the Jewish state, to Ashkelon, near Gaza, all along the coastal line.

In the Gador nature reserve near the northern town of Hadera, fish, turtles and other sea creatures were impregnated with tar.

Several thousand people came to the beaches to help clean up the tar, which is suspected to have killed many marine animals.

 A 17-meter long rorqual whale - a common whale in the Mediterranean - was found dead, stranded on a beach in the south of the Jewish state on Thursday.

Following the hospitalizations of various volunteers, the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority called on the population not to go to the beaches.

The Authority said in a statement: "At this moment, we are asking the people not to come to the beaches … to clean up as sort of individual operations".

"The clean-up operations need the use of appropriate protective equipment to proceed with the methodical evacuation of the tar to a suitable site and for health reasons.

3. An "alarm signal".

Thousands of volunteers showed up to clean up the beaches. In a second phase members of the Israeli army came as reinforcements.

The beach in Israel

However, the country's authorities are criticized by some newspapers … for being too slow and insufficient in dealing with environmental disasters.

The newspaper Haaretz wrote in an editorial hoping that the oil spill would act as a "warning signal"… for better handling of disasters in the future.

In the meantime, the authorities are trying to identify the vessel responsible for the oil spill.

The Authority stated that it was currently mapping the sites affected by the pollution. She said, "We are preparing for a big operation".

The Ministry of Environmental Protection said that during a reconnaissance flight, traces of tar were seen moving in the direction of several beaches in Haifa.

The affected areas are located between 200 and 500 meters from the shoreline and the ministry added that it is considering the treatment to be put in place.

4. The government has "identified ten ships".

They were able to establish that the origin of the oil was about 50 kilometers off the country's coasts.

The Minister of Environmental Protection, Gila Gamliel, said the government had "identified ten vessels" in this area.

"One or more of them could be responsible" for the oil spill, she added, based on data from the European Maritime Safety Agency.

The investigation to find the responsible party or parties could take less time than the clean-up of the beaches, which promises to take years...

5. Nine suspected vessels

The oil spill took place last week, in the midst of a winter storm, when strong winds and particularly high waves shook the Israeli coasts.

The oil was spotted late, making it difficult to manage its progress at sea. According to satellite images, the leak took place about 50 kilometers from the coast on February 11.

Israel is now trying, with the European agencies support; with the goal to determine which ship could be responsible for the oil spill.

"There is a good chance that we will be able to locate the ship in question," she said, adding that Israel could take legal action.

6. "Turning away from polluting energies"

"It's an accident on a scale that hasn't been seen in years. We are doing everything we can to find those responsible for the destruction and we are preparing … for the long and difficult task of rehabilitating the beaches and preventing further damage to animals," said Gamliel.

worst ecological disaster

On Thursday, Gamliel said the disaster "broke his heart," adding that it was a "crime against the environment and the ecosystem.

She said she had asked that priority be given to the care of marine animals.

"We must look to the future. This event and others like it around the world show us how crucial it is… To move away from polluting energies to renewable energies," said Gamliel on the spot.

Powerful winds and unusually high waves shook the Israeli coast last week, causing tons of tar to be dumped on beaches from Rosh Hanikra … near Lebanon to Ashkelon on the edge of the Gaza Strip.

A whale -a fin whale, the second largest species in the world after the blue whale. Nearly 17 meters long, had been discovered on a beach near Ashkelon.

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