The worst oil spill to date has marred at least 40% of Israel’s coastline. About sixteen towns over 106 miles situated along the Mediterranean Sea have been impacted by an undocumented oil spill that released dozens of tons of oil into the sea. Since last Wednesday, black tar is washing up along the shorelines, and oil spots are seen up to 500 meters out to sea. So far, nine turtles and a whale, have also washed up to shore covered in tar. Four turtles have died, as well as the whale, who was found with black liquid in its lungs.
Israeli officials have closed the beaches to the public, yet thousands of volunteers have made their way to help clean up what is the worst oil spill in Israel to date. A number of organizations are organizing cleanups along the shorelines as well. The Israel National Parks Authority says that “the cleanup will take years,” and its destructive impact is already being seen under and along the sea. The source of the oil spill remains unknown.
Michael Raphael, Director of the NGO, Mediterranean People Campaign says, “We all hope the mass activity will influence decision-makers to act for the sea’s future. Aquatic fauna and flora provide for us existential services – air for breathing, a source of food, an infrastructure for agriculture – and we have to protect them. Israel pledged to declare 10 percent of its coastline as aquatic reserves, and it has only declared so far 3 percent, something that endangers many aquatic species. Aquatic nature reserves are the only scientifically-backed remedy that can provide significant protection and ensure the sea’s future.”