EU Ambassador to Israel Emanuele Giaufret was joined Friday morning by more than two dozen envoys from EU member states, including 10 ambassadors, at a large-scale beach clean-up operation at the Beit Yanai National Park near Netanya, Israel.
A suspicious and deadly bitumen oil spill appeared washing up on the Israeli and Lebanese coast a few weeks ago. Iran is suspected of eco-terrorism and purposefully dumping the oil, meanwhile the public has rallied to pull globs of tar from the seashore. You can read our first report of of the Israeli oil spill here.
Sea turtles are being remediated with mayonnaise treats that melts the oil in their stomachs and gives them nutrients and meanwhile the ambassadors from EU countries pitched in among the more than 12,000 people who have been cleaning the seashore by hand. They only worked for an hour and a photo op, but it lends support in an oil spill that could escalate if Iran is indeed found the culprit of eco terrorism.
Clad in blue EU t-shirts and wearing plastic bags on their shoes, the EU diplomats to Israel spent more than an hour removing tar from stones along the coastline.
They were greeted at the beach by Galit Shaul, the head of the Emek Hefer Regional Council. The EU delegation in Tel Aviv initiated the activity, conducted in cooperation with the Zalul environmental organization, which it supports financially, after learning about the massive contamination of Israel’s beaches following a huge oil spill.
“As soon as we saw the terrible images of black tar washed up on beaches along the coastline, we decided that we had to do something to help. Every summer our delegation organizes a massive beach cleanup, but this disaster calls for immediate action,” Ambassador Giaufret said.
“There’s still a lot of work to do, but every effort helps. We’re grateful to our partners from Zalul for the important work they’re doing.”
Youval Arbel, sea campaigns manager at Zalul, said: “The massive tar contamination in our beaches is one of the most severe ecological disasters we have ever seen. Hundreds of volunteers are working every day to remove the tar from the rocks before its toxic materials will be swept into the sea and hurt more animals.
Zalul has been working with the NGO EcoOcean among others to clean the oil. EcoOcean’s founder Andreas Weil had the foresight two years ago to start training the public on how to be prepared for an emergency cleanup. His Swedish background might come into play in his NGOs success, he told Green Prophet.
Protecting the environment is one of the EU’s top priorities. The EU puts a strong emphasis in its activities around the world, including in Israel, on preserving and cleaning beaches from waste, and the severe incident that has contaminated Israel’s beaches in recent days is another, especially painful, reminder of the importance of these efforts.