‘Environmental terrorists’: Israel points finger at Iran for massive oil spill covering its shores

Gila Gamliel says Libyan oil tanker now docked in Iran appears responsible for the massive oil spill on Israel’s beaches.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel news

Israel’s Minister of Environmental Protection accused Iran of being behind the massive oil spill that polluted Israel’s beaches, saying “environmental terrorists” were responsible for a deliberate attack on Israel, Globes reported Wednesday.

“Between February 1 and 2 a container of crude oil was poured into the sea and the polluting materials made their way to Israel’s shores,” Gamliel said at a press conference.

“Throughout I have said that we are talking about environmental criminals. But we have discovered that we are not only talking about environmental criminals, but environmental terrorists.”

Gamliel accused “a pirate Libyan-owned ship” called the Emerald of being the culprit, telling reporters “it left Iran with its radio turned off, turned it back on and again turned it off for a day, before entering Israeli economic waters and polluting Israel’s water. When it reached Syria, it turned the radio back on again.”

“We are talking about a 19-year-old ship, which would not be able to sail to European or American ports,” Gamliel said. “The ship is currently in Iran. The State of Israel will demand compensation from the IMF and will settle accounts for the damage caused by the Emerald.”

“We see that Iran is not only operating terror through nuclear weapons but by damaging the environment. When Iran harms the environment, it is not only harming Israel. Our struggle against environmental damage and pollution is a struggle that crosses national borders,” the minister said.

However, after Gamliel’s announcement, Israeli security sources said they were surprised and they had not been involved in the investigation, Ynet reported. They added that, if true, it may be an act of revenge for the assassination of its top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, last November, which the Iranians blamed on Israel.

However, the ministry’s marine protection division director Rani Amir was more cautious, suggesting that the Emerald was covertly smuggling Iranian oil to another country in violation of sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

“The movement of the ship, turning off its identification systems, moving around Latakia port (in Syria) makes it very clear that the aim was to bring out crude oil on a substandard ship,” Amir said, adding that the ministry wasn’t ruling out either “possible terror, or a fault on the ship that wasn’t reported.”

“There is someone here who is responsible for the death of the animals and the pollution of the sea and beaches that is preventing the public at this time from accessing them,” Gamliel told Channel 12 after the press conference. “We are investing a lot of time and resources in the investigation, also at the international level, to find the offender, who has black blood on his hands.”