Israel Grapples With Massive Oil Spill, Forcing Beaches Shut

TEL AVIV—Israel is undergoing a mass cleanup of its beaches after an oil spill from an unidentified vessel left much of the country’s 120-mile Mediterranean shoreline covered with black sticky tar, in one of the worst ecological disasters in the country’s history.

Tar-covered turtles, a whale and other wildlife have washed up on Israel’s shores in recent days, according to photos on social media. The first reports of the spill came last week after a winter storm created strong waves that brought blobs of tar ashore in Israel’s north.

The spill has affected 90% of Israel’s coastline and the cleanup could take months, if not years, Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority said.

On Tuesday, Israel’s government approved plans to allocate $13.8 million to clean up its shores.

Authorities are searching for the ship responsible for the spill, according to Israeli officials. European oil-spill experts in contact with the Israeli authorities said the tarry nature of the oil suggested it could have been exposed to the elements for some time.

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