ISRAEL closes its beaches ‘until further notice’ after major oil spill
Israel has been forced to close all of its Mediterranean beaches on Sunday, February 21 after bad weather began carrying globs of tar towards the shore on Tuesday and Wednesday. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the lethal petroleum by-product has washed up along 96 miles of coastline, from southern Lebanon all the way to Ashkelon, which is north of Gaza. The devastating ecological disaster poses a serious risk to marine life and humans alike, and people have been warned to stay away from the beaches until the mess is cleaned up.
The Minister of Interior, Environmental Protection and Health has asked members of the public to give the beaches a wide berth while the clean-up operation, involving hundreds of volunteers, is underway, as ‘exposure to tar can risk the public’s health’.
Officials believe the oil spill was caused by ‘dozens to hundreds of tonnes’ of oil from a ship, which quickly turned to tar. A fin whale has already washed up on one of the beaches and is believed to have died from ingesting the deadly substance.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised that the Government would make adequate funds available for the large-scale clean-up project, but Environment Minister Gila Gamliel has already warned that it will most likely cost ‘tens of millions of shekels,’ according to Metro.
She said: ‘We need to look to the future – this event and similar ones around the world show us how crucial it is to wean ourselves from these polluting fuels, and shift to renewable energy.’
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