“In Israel, we have maritime dominance blindness,” said Shaul Chorev, a retired rear admiral in the Israeli Navy who is now director of the Center for Maritime Strategy and Policy Research at the University of Haifa. “Our activities are always focused on thwarting terrorist activities, but that is not the whole picture of security at sea.”
Admiral Chorev said preventing future oil spills from reaching shore would not only require Israel to invest in satellites and other tracking devices, but also assign a government body with clear responsibility for monitoring its shoreline for ecological disasters and contain them.
Environmental activists warned that while the damage caused by the spill was significant, a leak at one of the natural gas platforms off the coast of Israel could be even more destructive. Israel has 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 Zalul, an organization that advocates for the preservation of water bodies in and around Israel, which relies heavily on desalinated water. “We must step up monitoring of the platforms immediately and transition to the use of renewable energy.”
In Lebanon, the prime minister’s office said tar reached the southern coast of that country. He also claimed that the oil spill originated from an Israeli ship, but did not provide evidence to back up the claim.
Yasser al-Shanti, head of the Gaza Water Authority, said no oil had reached Gaza’s beaches, but officials were tracking the situation.
Moshiko Saadi, an environmental activist who spent Tuesday helping clean a beach in northern Israel, said he was “heartbroken” by the ubiquity of tar.
“A lot of people are quickly cleaning and filling bag after bag,” Saadi said. “But then you look up and see that there are still large amounts everywhere. It makes you feel helpless. “