“In Israel, we have blindness in the maritime domain,” said Shaul Khoreev, a retired marine general in the Israeli Navy and now head of the Center for Maritime Policy and Strategy Research at Haifa University. Our activities always focus on thwarting terrorist activities, but this is not the complete picture of security at sea.
Admiral Khoreev said that preventing a future oil spill from reaching the coast would not only require Israel to invest in satellites and other tracking devices, but also assign a government agency with clear responsibility for monitoring its coastline for environmental disasters as well as containing them.
Environmental activists have warned that while the damage from the leak is significant, a spill from a natural gas platform off the Israeli coast could be more devastating. Israel invested heavily to develop natural gas fields off its coast and began exporting gas to Egypt in late 2019.
“This should be a wake-up call,” said Maya Jacobs, director of the Zalul Organization, which advocates for preserving water bodies in and around Israel and which relies heavily on desalinated water. “We must immediately step up monitoring of drilling rigs and move to the use of renewable energies.”
In Lebanon, the Prime Minister’s Office said that tar had reached the country’s southern shores. It also claimed that the oil spill originated from an Israeli ship, but has not provided any evidence to support the claim.
Yasser Shanti, head of the Gaza Water Authority, said that the oil had not reached Gaza’s shores, but officials were following the situation.
Mosheco Saadi, an environmental activist who spent Tuesday helping clean a beach in northern Israel, said he was “sad” that the tar was everywhere.
“A lot of people are cleaning and filling the bags after the other quickly, but then you look up and you see that there are still huge amounts everywhere. It makes you feel helpless,” Mr. Al-Saadi said.