Oil Spill In Israel


Liron Brunner, Staff Writer

On February 26th, 2021, hundreds of tonnes of tar were washed ashore on the beaches on a stretch of Israel’s coast from Rosh Hanikra to Ashkelon.

With all of this oil in the sea, Israel’s iconic beaches, which provide recreation for the locals and tourists, are closed. The authorities have not yet discovered the source of the spill and are still searching for the culprit. 

Many people picture oil spills as black splotches of oil in the water. In this case, however, there were black splotches of tar all across the Mediterranean shores. Much of the local sea life is covered in this black, sticky tar and in some cases, killing them. This is not a little spill either.

It is having a devastating impact on the country of Israel as Nature and Parks Authority stated in CNN: “the enormous amounts of tar emitted in recent days to the shores of Israel from south to north caused one of the most severe ecological disasters to hit Israel.”

Currently, there is an extensive clean-up occurring across the country, but it will take a long time for the oceans to be completely safe. Even with these efforts, authorities have not yet contained the spill, and more tar is washing up on the beaches. Egypt has offered to run its boats on natural gas instead of oil to mitigate the incident.

Having been to the beach in Eilat and Tel Aviv several times, I have observed the Israelis tourists enjoy the beaches, and businesses on the coast thrive. The waters are crystal clear, and every time I go, I see fish in the water.

The ecosystem of the ocean is beautiful, but the spill has harmed this water. The animals are suffering the most, with their habitat polluted. The beauty of Israel and its citizens’ culture all rely on a healthy environment and keeping it safe is so important. 

In some cases, the tar is 4 to 5 inches thick and goes 100 miles up the coastline into southern Lebanon. Thousands of citizens and hundreds of soldiers have volunteered to clean up the oil and tar that line the beach. There was even a 55-foot long fin whale washed ashore south of Tel Aviv with black liquid found in its lungs, but it is not only the animals who have been harmed. Several volunteers needed extra oxygen because they had trouble breathing after inhaling fumes from the tar.

An admiral in the Israeli Navy, Shaul Chorev, stated that Israel needs to invest in satellites and new technology to monitor the sea. Maya Jacobs, the head of Zalul (an organization that advocates for the preservation of Israel’s waters), says the nation needs to invest in renewable energies and monitor the oil rigs closely to prevent a spill from ever happening again. As Israel is known for its innovative technology, it will come as no surprise if there is a new invention to help with these problems coming out in the foreseeable future.

Israelis will take action and try and prevent these environmental tragedies in the future. Many people are heartbroken at the state the beaches are in right now, and many environmental activists are trying to initiate change, which will take a great deal of time and effort.

Unfortunately, many people feel helpless because there are still mounds of tar washing onto the beach, and it will take a tremendous amount of effort and dedication to heal the sea.