Israel closed its Mediterranean beaches to visitors on Sunday after a serious oil spill. Citizens were urged not to go swimming or to play sports on the beach. The environmental pollution could endanger health, it said. In the past few days, an oil spill had wreaked havoc on Israel’s beaches. Numerous marine animals such as turtles were covered with a black, sticky film. A young fin whale died.
The reason was initially unclear. Thousands of volunteers helped clean up the beaches over the weekend. However, according to media reports, several of them later complained of malaise. Schaul Goldstein, chairman of the Israeli nature and parks authority, spoke of the worst natural disaster in years.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the beach near the port city of Ashdod on Sunday. He said the environment ministry would work out a plan to clean up the beaches. In talks with its southern neighbor, Egypt, it was suggested that ships in the Mediterranean should be equipped with environmentally friendly fuel in the future. “When multiple countries work together, we can make a big difference in a few years, keeping the sea, land and beaches clean.”