The Ministry of Environmental Protection says it was not warned about the spill ‘by any international or Israeli entity’ and ‘any claim otherwise is false’.
As reported by Bunkerspot, last week over 100 miles of Israel’s Mediterranean coastline was hit with an oil spill following a period of stormy weather and an intensive clean-up operation is now underway.
Yesterday (22 February), Haifa magistrate’s court issued an order prohibiting the publication of any details relating to the ongoing investigation into the causes of the spill by Israel’s Ministry of Environmental Protection's Marine Environmental Protection Unit. The Ministry said that the temporary gagging order will be in place until 28 February and it will cover ‘anything that could identify the suspects, including the name of the vessel, ports of departure and destination, cargo, and shipping lane’.
However, the Ministry subsequently issued a statement saying it had no prior knowledge of the oil spill and ‘no other Middle Eastern country received any warning either’.
It noted that Israel is a party to the Barcelona Convention and, as such, it should have been informed about the oil leak when it occurred.
‘Even to date, however, such a report has not reached Israeli authorities,’ said the Ministry.
Once it had ‘calculated the possible dates on which the oil leak occurred’, the Ministry said it contacted the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre (REMPEC) and the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) to use satellite systems to help it identify the ship which was the source of the spill.
The agencies had identified several possible locations where the oil may have come from, and the Ministry said it had used that information to identify 10 ships as potential suspects.
Of the 10 ‘suspicious ships’, two had docked at the port of Ashdod. The Ministry said that its inspectors ‘had carried out a surprise inspection on one of the ships that was still in Ashdod, but it was ruled out as a possible source’.