Cabinet to allocate funds to rehabilitate beaches ahead of bathing season after massive oil spill

Cabinet approves plan by Netanyahu and environmental protection minister to allocate NIS 45 million to clean and rehabilitate the beaches.

By World Israel News Staff

The cabinet on Tuesday approved Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s and Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel’s plan to allocate NIS 45 million to treat the pollution of the beaches, remove the waste to disposal sites and restore the situation to what it had been before the devastating oil spill Saturday along the Israeli coastline.

Within 30 days, Gamliel will submit draft legislation on readiness and response to maritime oil pollution events.

The Environmental Protection Ministry will allocate NIS 45 million from the maritime pollution prevention fund in order to implement the following:

* Assistance to the local authorities and the Nature and Parks Authority, which are responsible for the Mediterranean Sea beaches that were damaged by tar (up to NIS 250,000 per kilometer of shoreline), for treating the polluted beaches including the fauna that were hurt. A NIS 62,500 advance in immediate assistance will be transferred from this amount.

* Transporting, treating and removing the waste tar from the temporary storage sites on the beaches to the designated sites.

* The carrying out of surveys and studies, economic and environmental analyses, actions to monitor and document the scope and magnitude of the damage, the rehabilitation process and evaluating the use of innovative materials to repair the coastal and maritime environment including their biodiversity, in order to – inter alia – improve treatment and response in similar future events.

“This was a major ecological disaster in which a thousand tons of petroleum and tar were piled up on our beaches. We must act quickly, before it sinks into the ground, especially in rocky areas and this would be damage that would be with us for many years,” Netanyahu stated.

“Therefore, we are acting quickly and have just approved the plan that I submitted together with Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel. This budgetary assistance will help in saving our beaches. We will maintain our beaches and our environment,” he said.

“We organized very quickly in order to enable the allocation of significant funds for local authorities along the coast and the Nature and Parks Authority,” Gamliel said. “We will do everything so that we will be able to repair the ecological damage and go back to enjoying Israel’s beautiful beaches, and open the coming bathing season on schedule.”

In order to open the bathing season on March 20, 2021, it was decided that the Interior and Finance ministries will reach an agreement within 14 days on budgeting for the opening, including developing the bathing beaches and making them accessible, as well as operation, lifeguards and safety.

“We are continuing a complex international investigation to apprehend and severely punish those responsible,” Gamliel said.

It was also decided that the Environmental Protection Ministry and the Finance Ministry would discuss budgeting NIS 25 million for the fund to enable it to respond to future events of similar magnitude and to facilitate the continued operation of the fund for future uses.

Furthermore, a committee will be established that will recommend within six months ways to deal with and prevent maritime disaster scenarios, including the necessary budgets and personnel.