Mediterranean Oil Spill Closes Israeli Beaches, Threatens Nature Preserve

Israel has closed its beaches after an oil spill dumped tons of tar along its coast of around 200 kilometers, on Sunday.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection as well as the Health and Interior Ministries cautioned the public against visiting its beaches saying, “Do not go to Mediterranean Sea beaches for swimming, sports, or recreational activities until further notice.”

“Exposure to tar can be harmful to public health!” they said in a statement.

Environmental protection minister Gila Gamliel said, “This is a hazard of a magnitude we have not seen in years. We are doing everything in order to find those responsible for the destruction, and are preparing for the difficult and long task of rehabilitating the beaches and preventing further injury to animals.”

The source of the tar has yet to be determined, and officials are now coordinating with foreign authorities to trace the origin of the spill.

But authorities suspect the spill came from one of the vessels about 50 kilometers off the shore on February 11, according to satellite images obtained by the ministry.

“It is currently working to find who is responsible for the disaster, and will take action against that person or persons,” the Ministry of Environmental Protection said.

Over the weekend, volunteers and members of the military were helping to clean up the beaches of the tar, while some were hospitalized after they inhaled toxic fumes.

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