Correspondent in Jerusalem
Correspondent in Jerusalem
The Libyan vessel flying the Panamanian flag, and more recently that of the Marshall Islands, was carrying contraband oil destined for Syria.
He was apparently from Iran.
He is accused by Israel of being responsible for the worst oil spill in its history.
It is an act of environmental terrorism
" claims the Minister of the Environment, Gila Gamliel, member of the party of Benyamin Netanyahu.
In mid-February, strong winds and unusually high waves had stirred the coasts, causing tons of tar to be spilled on beaches from southern Lebanon to the Palestinian enclave of Gaza via Israel.
The cause of the disaster was unknown and the Israeli government had imposed military censorship on the investigation.
It is estimated that around a thousand tonnes of tar, presumably crude oil, from an unidentified vessel washed up on more than 90 percent of Israel's roughly 200 kilometers of coastline.
The pollution was spotted on February 17.
A whale was found dead washed up on a beach near Ashkelon in southern Israel.
The sale of seafood and swimming were banned, but this did not prevent die-hard swimmers in Tel Aviv from swimming between a few balls of fuel.
Mayonnaise for turtles
Specialized teams and volunteers cleaned up the beaches.
Sea turtles have been treated with a surprising but apparently effective method: they have been brushed with mayonnaise and swallowed it, which has washed their eyes, their mouths and their digestive tracts free.
The survey was carried out using European satellite data.
It made it possible to eliminate from the list of suspects a dozen vessels present in the area, including a Greek ship with a heavy history, to focus on the Libyan tanker.
The ship-tracking site MarineTraffic.com has listed the owner of the "Emerald", the questionable vessel, as state-owned.
He did not respond to messages.
However, nothing says that the causes of the ecological disaster are not accidental.
According to Gila Gamliel, the tanker left Iran, turning off its Automatic Identification System (AIS) which transmits its position to other vessels in the area.
He activated this AIS during its passage through the Suez Canal, then deactivated it as it approached the Israeli coast.
The boat remained tens of kilometers off the Israeli coast, in its economic waters, for almost a day.
He then continued on his way to Syria, where he turned on his transmitter, and then returned to Iran.
At least that's Gila Gamliel's version.
We now see that Iran is not only terrorizing Israel with nuclear weapons, but also by harming the environment,
" she said.
Israeli security sources do not confirm the environment minister's claims.