Israel pollutes the Mediterranean and destroys the natural resources in the Palestinian shoreline, then accuses others of Eco terrorism
By: George Kurzom
An Israeli platform to explore oil in the Mediterranean, off the Palestinian coast. Any oil spill will poison marine flora and fauna - Photo by Albetros
Exclusive to Environment and Development Horizons (Afaq magazine):
By the end of last February, pollution by oil and tar spread to all Palestinian seashores from Ras al-Naqoura in the north to Asqalan “Ashkelon” and Asdood “Ashdod” in the south, in addition to the southern coast of Lebanon.
This pollution is considered to be the most hazardous marine pollution to hit the Palestinian coast in decades. Experts estimate that a complete clean-up and removal of oil pollution from the shores may take a few years. The length of the occupied Palestinian shoreline, which was polluted, is more than 170 km.
In the few days following the pollution of the beaches, Israel imposed a media blackout on the cause of the pollution and all the related investigations.
Why would Israel hide all the information of the investigation of the oil pollution disaster? Perhaps to cover up for Israel’s role in the marine pollution mainly resulting from Israeli oil exploration and extraction along the Mediterranean shores. Some extractions took place in marine areas with unique ecological characteristics such as the marine area surrounding Hadera and Caesarea.
Israel needed a blackout period, in order for it to make a story up to market its claim about the cause of the pollution; a claim without any scientific proof.
On the third of March, less than two weeks after the pollution started, and in light of the Israeli media blackout, Gila Gamliel “Minister of Environmental Protection”, announced that the results of the Israeli investigation revealed that what she called "Iran environmental terror" was responsible for marine pollution.
She claimed that the ship responsible for pollution was a Panama flagged oil tanker, owned by a Libyan company, it left Iran and sailed in Israel economic zone, where the oil spill occurred. The ship then headed to Syria and is currently in Iran. Gila added that Israel will demand compensation for that.
Unrealistically, "Gamliel" declared the previously agreed on story, that Iran "practices terrorism not only with nuclear weapons, but also through environmental terrorism."
The Israeli security forces claimed that the statement "Gamliel" took them by surprise. The Israeli security forces claimed that they did not participate in the investigation at all. The army, The Military Intelligence and Navy were not notified in advance regarding the Minister of Environmental Protection’s claim that Iran and Libya were involved in the oil pollution issue in the Mediterranean.
The valid question here is: If Iran was truly responsible for the marine pollution, therefore, according to Israel this is a security related incident. Is it realistic that the Israeli security forces and military intelligence were not part of the rumored investigation, as the Minister of Environmental Protection’s announced?
The initial conclusion assures that the claim of the Minister of Environmental Protection is unsupported and is only a propaganda aimed at investing in the pollution incident as an electoral advertising for the elections of the Israeli Knesset.
The conclusion is that shipping experts in general were not convinced at all that there is sufficient evidence to support the alleged Israeli narrative.
What confirms that the Israeli accusation of Iran is just a poorly written story, is that the international environmental organization "Greenpeace" strongly criticized Gamliel's claim that the pollution was "an intentional terrorist act by Iran", and described its claim as "Scandalous and lacking any realistic basis. It smelled like electoral propaganda and the attempt to accumulate political capital at the expense of a serious environmental disaster. "
Israel practices terrorism against the marine environment
It is a known fact that Israel’s oil companies and the Israeli Navy and Civilian Naval Fleet play an ultimate role in polluting and destroying the marine environment. In the past few years, Israel has expanded its use of polluting fuels, instead of moving towards a clean, carbon-free economy.
Israel is also currently extracting and plundering huge quantities of natural gas, which, during the process of extracting it, generates a large amount of polluting oil. Israel worsened the situation by destructing and polluting of the waters and shores of the Mediterranean Sea.
Among other things, the Israeli damage of the marine environment results from the granting of more than a hundred official licenses that allow the flow of untreated wastewater and other pollutants into the sea, including the flow of millions of cubic meters of sludge annually.
In addition to that, the cycle of deterioration was frequently made worse due to the intensive residential and tourism expansion in the Palestinian coastal zone, the expansion of ports and oil and gas exploration projects. Successive Israeli governments prefer the interests of business owners and polluters over the marine and terrestrial Ecosystems.
Israeli oil and gas exploration and extraction pose the greatest threat to the Mediterranean. The ongoing excavations are causing fatal harm to marine life.
Some Israeli environmentalists have recently expressed their concern about the continued operation of oil and gas exploration platforms that disrupt the natural marine ecosystem in the parts of Mediterranean that are in the Palestinian coast. During the exploration, examination, development and extraction work, toxic substances leak into the marine environment.
What worries the experts the most is that in the past few years some exotic marine species have been introduced and have reached the Mediterranean. Experts fear that the new species will disturb the natural balance and take over the food sources of the existing ones. This harms the existing species and might even causes some of them to become extinct.
Israel’s establishment and operation of gas and oil installations came in sync with the establishment of infrastructure for exploration and a pipeline network in environmentally sensitive areas, in the middle of the sea.
This means that any oil leak from the pipelines or any malfunction of the drilling facility may lead to major marine pollution, similar to the pollution that has occurred in past years in the Gulf of Mexico and other places in the world. In addition to the offshore sites where the gas was found, Israel plans to explore for offshore gas and oil in 15 additional sites. It is expected that in the near future Israel will establish additional large offshore platforms for processing gas by the Palestinian shores.
Additional entrances will also be added to the pipeline network from sea to shore. It is a known fact that exploration for gas in the seas may pose a serious threat to the marine environment.
In addition, Israel continues to exploit, deplete and destroy marine resources in the Palestinian shoreline.
All indications lead to the fact that the Palestinian natural wealth and marine environment will further be deteriorated due to the additional seawater desalination plants expected to be established, and the expansion of natural gas exploration operations by the Palestinian shores. Which may lead to an environmental catastrophe with a devastating economic collapse.
Israeli desalination projects cause depletion of the energy and threatens the natural environment in the shoreline of Palestine, are also causing further deterioration of the marine environment. As the concentrated salts remaining after the desalination processes leak out to the sea through the pipelines. This could lead to forming a "salt desert" in the areas surrounding the pipeline. Also, chemicals that are used during the desalination process flow into the sea.
Three desalination plants are currently operating along the Palestinian coast, producing more than 700 million cubic meters of water annually.
Moreover, the Israeli occupation is brutally besieging the Gaza Strip, causing a large and continuous interruption of electricity and fuel, thus paralyzing the work of wastewater collection and treatment plants. As a result, thousands of cubic meters of untreated wastewater flow daily to the shores of the Gaza Sea. The result is serious pollution of these beaches, sea water and fish wealth.
Translated by: Rasha Abu Dayyeh