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Making Waves

Israeli surfers claim to set world record with gas-drilling protest

1,000 people form human circle off Herzliya coast in what they say is the largest-ever ‘paddle out,’ call for gas rigs to be moved further from shore

Israelis set the record for the world's largest 'surfing paddle-out' in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Herzliya, as part of a protest against natural gas drilling near Israel's coastline. (Screen capture: Hadashot news)
Israelis set the record for the world's largest 'surfing paddle-out' in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Herzliya, as part of a protest against natural gas drilling near Israel's coastline. (Screen capture: Hadashot news)

Nearly 1,000 surfers took part in a protest Friday against natural gas production near Israel’s coastline, and claimed to set a world record for the largest-ever “surfing paddle out.”

With 992 people making a human circle in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Herzliya, the protest appeared to break the previous Guinness world record of 511 people set last year at Huntington Beach, California. Organizers of the event said they would submit the number to Guinness to be confirmed as the record, Reuters reported.

The protest was organized by a group of Israeli surfers to call for natural gas rigs to be placed further than 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from the shore, according to Hadashot TV news.

Participants in the demonstration wore shirts bearing the skull and crossbones symbol along with the Hebrew words “don’t poison us.”

In addition to the human circle at sea, demonstrators also protested on the beach under the slogan “the sea is not for sale,” Hadashot news reported.

Protesters in recent years have demonstrated against natural gas production in Israel, with a controversial 2015 deal pushed for by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drawing much of the ire of demonstrators.

Critics of the deal argued that it created a de facto duopoly in the gas market that would lead to higher prices for Israeli consumers, while its proponents said the protections given to the gas companies were necessary in order to entice them to invest the billions of dollars needed to develop natural gas fields discovered in the Mediterranean.

Recently there have been protests by environmentalists against the location of gas rigs, which they say will cause damage to the Israeli coast.

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