The government is advising Israelis to avoid all Mediterranean beaches from north to south due to pollution from a tar spill that has reached Israel’s coastline.
A joint advisory issued by the Health, Interior and Environmental Protection ministry calls on the public “not to go [to the beaches] to swim, or do sports or leisure activity until further notice.”
“Exposure to tar could harm public health,” the advisory reads.
The advisory covers all beaches from Rosh Hanikra, on the border with Lebanon, to Zikim, on the border with Gaza.
The cause of the spill of dozens of tons of tar, among the worst environmental disasters in Israel decades, is still unclear. Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel said Saturday an oil spill had been identified about 50 kilometers (31 miles) off the coast a week ago, and that one of 10 vessels that were in the area at the time may have been responsible.
On Saturday, a number of people who volunteered to participate in a cleanup operation of the massive tar spill were hospitalized after inhaling apparently toxic fumes.
Soldiers have now been enlisted to bolster the cleanup effort.