On the Israeli beaches, the damage is more than obvious. Over a length of almost 170 kilometers, sticky black lumps of tar lie in the sand everywhere, where shimmering oil streaks can be seen again and again where the waves crash against the shore. Traces of oil and tar can also be found on the animals that soldiers, environmentalists and volunteers discover while cleaning up the affected sections of the stand. Turtles are covered with a dark, sticky film, and black liquid has also been found in the lungs of a young fin whale that was washed up lifeless on the beach.
In contrast, the cause of the oil spill, which after Israel has now also reached Lebanon, is anything but obvious. The Israeli environment ministry suspects that the tar remains come from oil or fuel that may have leaked from a ship that passed the coast. According to Environment Minister Gila Gamliel, nine ships are possible polluters. However, there is currently no evidence of a serious accident and with an estimated volume of only several dozen tonnes, the amount of oil that has so far been driven onto the coast is many times smaller than in the major environmental disasters of the past.
The actions of the Israeli authorities in the case are also somewhat mysterious. A court in Haifa has meanwhile granted a motion by the Ministry of the Environment calling for all media reports on the oil spill to be censored. According to the “Jerusalem Post” it is forbidden to publish details with which the suspects could be identified – such as ship names, routes or even ports of departure and destination. The censorship regulations have been described as “irregular” in many of the Israeli media. Typically, censorship orders are only enforced during Israeli military or intelligence operations.(rs)