After Massive Oil Spill, Israel Allows Sports Activities in Mediterranean

The announcement comes after seawater pollution recovered to normal levels following the ecological disaster, but not all beaches will reopen

Zafrir Rinat
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A Tel Aviv beach, this month
A Tel Aviv beach, this monthCredit: Hadas Parush
Zafrir Rinat

Israel's Health, Interior and Environmental Protection Ministries said on Sunday Israelis may reenter the Mediterranean after an investigation into seawater pollution following a catastrophic oil spill found that it had returned to normal levels.

The ministries also announced that people will be allowed to return to some beaches, depending on the progress of the cleanup operation.

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According to Environmental Protection Ministry, new lumps of tar were found on the beaches from Kiryat Yam to Tirat Carmel in the northern district of the country.

This comes after the government warned the population to avoid the shoreline after the leak occurred around three weeks ago.  

Haaretz.com's Daniel Guri de Lima raps the news.Credit: Haaretz.

An estimated 1,000 tons of black tar from the leak washed up on over 90 percent of the country's 195 kilometer (120 mile) coastline in February, but the source of the spillage remains contested.

Last week, Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel accused Iran for the attack after authorities identified a likely culprit in the Libyan-owned oil tanker, Emerald. This opinion was not shared by Israel's military intelligence, and officials in Gamliel's ministry distanced themselves from her statement at the time.

In rebuttal, the Israeli chapter of Greenpeace, which has undertaken its own independent investigation into the leak, described the accusations against Iran as "baseless at this stage in time."

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