Suspected oil spill may be ‘greatest ecological disaster’ in Israel’s history
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Suspected oil spill may be ‘greatest ecological disaster’ in Israel’s history

More than half of the Jewish state's Mediterranean coastline has been affected by the spill, which has caused damage to wildlife

  • Israelis clean tar from the sand after an offshore oil spill drenched much of Israel's Mediterranean shoreline, at a beach in Atlit, Israel February 22, 2021. Photo by: Roni Ofer-JINIPIX
    Israelis clean tar from the sand after an offshore oil spill drenched much of Israel's Mediterranean shoreline, at a beach in Atlit, Israel February 22, 2021. Photo by: Roni Ofer-JINIPIX
  • Israelis clean tar from the sand after an offshore oil spill drenched much of Israel's Mediterranean shoreline, at a beach in Atlit, Israel February 22, 2021. Photo by: Roni Ofer-JINIPIX
    Israelis clean tar from the sand after an offshore oil spill drenched much of Israel's Mediterranean shoreline, at a beach in Atlit, Israel February 22, 2021. Photo by: Roni Ofer-JINIPIX
  • Israelis clean tar from the sand after an offshore oil spill drenched much of Israel's Mediterranean shoreline, at a beach in Atlit, Israel February 22, 2021. Photo by: Roni Ofer-JINIPIX
    Israelis clean tar from the sand after an offshore oil spill drenched much of Israel's Mediterranean shoreline, at a beach in Atlit, Israel February 22, 2021. Photo by: Roni Ofer-JINIPIX
  • Israelis clean tar from the sand after an offshore oil spill drenched much of Israel's Mediterranean shoreline, at a beach in Atlit, Israel February 22, 2021. Photo by: Roni Ofer-JINIPIX
    Israelis clean tar from the sand after an offshore oil spill drenched much of Israel's Mediterranean shoreline, at a beach in Atlit, Israel February 22, 2021. Photo by: Roni Ofer-JINIPIX
  • Israelis clean tar from the sand after an offshore oil spill drenched much of Israel's Mediterranean shoreline, at a beach in Atlit, Israel February 22, 2021. Photo by: Roni Ofer-JINIPIX
    Israelis clean tar from the sand after an offshore oil spill drenched much of Israel's Mediterranean shoreline, at a beach in Atlit, Israel February 22, 2021. Photo by: Roni Ofer-JINIPIX
  • Israelis clean tar from the sand after an offshore oil spill drenched much of Israel's Mediterranean shoreline, at a beach in Atlit, Israel February 22, 2021. Photo by: Roni Ofer-JINIPIX
    Israelis clean tar from the sand after an offshore oil spill drenched much of Israel's Mediterranean shoreline, at a beach in Atlit, Israel February 22, 2021. Photo by: Roni Ofer-JINIPIX

A huge stretch of Israel’s Mediterranean coastline was coated in tar this week after a suspected oil spill from a tanker caused problems for wildlife and tourism.

Up to 40 percent of the state’s 106-mile coast was hit, with sea turtles among the animals affected, just days after a 17-metre-long fin whale was found washed up on a beach. An autopsy found oil-based material in its body.

“This will not end in the next few days, we are preparing for long, hard work,” said Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel. “We identified ten vessels that passed through. One or more could be responsible for this severe incident.”

Israeli soldiers have been drafted in to help with the clean-up, which occurred during a storm last week. Weather conditions also hampered the detection of the slick until it was too late.

The Israeli government has told people to stay away from the beaches, saying: “Exposure to tar could harm public health.”

An oil spill also caused damage at a nature reserve in southern Israel in December 2014, but Shaul Goldstein, head of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, said this week’s spill was Israel’s “worst environmental disaster in a decade”.

Israelis clean tar from the sand after an offshore oil spill drenched much of Israel’s Mediterranean shoreline, at a beach in Atlit, Israel February 22, 2021. Photo by: Roni Ofer-JINIPIX
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