Israel accuses Iran of deliberately spilling oil to pollute its shores

Israel on Wednesday accused Iran of intentionally orchestrating a massive oil spill off its shores in early February.

Israel’s Minister of Environmental Protection Gila Gamliel said Iran is carrying out “terrorism by damaging the environment”, according to Reuters, adding that when “Iran is damaging the environment it is not only damaging the state of Israel” .

Israeli officials said the ship that caused the contamination was a Libyan-owned tanker suspected of smuggling oil from Iran to Syria.

More than 90% of Israel’s 120-mile Mediterranean coastline was covered by roughly 1,000 tons of black tar due to the spill, the Associated Press reported, marking one of the worst ecological disasters in the country’s history. Gamliel called the incident a deliberate act of “environmental terror”, and vowed to “sue for compensation for all citizens of Israel.”

Iranian officials have not commented on the matter and Iran’s UN Mission in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.

Oil from israel

Israelis clean tar from sand after a suspected oil spill covered the coast of Israel with tar on February 25, 2021 in Haifa, Israel.

Amir Levy / Getty Images

The accusations on Wednesday came two days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu alleged that Iran attacked an Israeli-owned cargo ship in the Gulf of Oman.

“It was actually an act by Iran, that’s clear,” Netanyahu said Monday, according to the Associated Press. “Iran is Israel’s greatest enemy, I am determined to stop it. We are attacking it throughout the region.”

Tehran has rejected the accusations.

Amid intense tensions between Washington and Tehran linked to then-President Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign and his decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal, the United States in 2019 accused Iran of being behind the attacks on the tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

The contentious dynamic between the United States and Iran has carried over into the Biden era, even as the new administration seeks to revive the 2015 agreement.

On Thursday, President Joe Biden ordered airstrikes in Syria against Iranian-backed militias in retaliation for a rocket attack in Irbil, Iraq, in mid-February that killed a foreign contractor and injured several Americans. Biden said the attacks were intended to send a message to Iran to “be careful”, warning that Tehran cannot act “with impunity.”

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