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Oil spill stains Israeli shoreline; investigations underway

February 20, 2021 GMT
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Tar pieces from an oil spill stuck on rocks in the Mediterranean sea as it reached Gador nature reserve near Hadera, Israel, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021. Hundreds of volunteers are taking part in a cleanup operation of Israeli shoreline as investigations are underway to determine the cause of an oil spill that threatens the beach and wildlife, at Gador Nature Reserve near the northern city of Hadera, the tar smeared fish, turtles, and other sea creatures. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
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Tar pieces from an oil spill stuck on rocks in the Mediterranean sea as it reached Gador nature reserve near Hadera, Israel, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021. Hundreds of volunteers are taking part in a cleanup operation of Israeli shoreline as investigations are underway to determine the cause of an oil spill that threatens the beach and wildlife, at Gador Nature Reserve near the northern city of Hadera, the tar smeared fish, turtles, and other sea creatures. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

HADERA, Israel (AP) — Hundreds of volunteers took part Saturday in a cleanup operation of the Israeli shoreline as investigations are underway to determine the cause of an oil spill that threatens the beach and wildlife.

Israeli media reported that several volunteers were hospitalized after inhaling fumes. Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority urged people to stay away from the beach at 16 of the communities that are most polluted.

At a news conference Saturday night, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the incident was being investigated and he was preparing a report for the Israeli Cabinet. “The circumstances that led to this incident are still unknown,” he said, adding that the government was in touch with leaders of affected local communities.

From as north as Haifa and down south to Ashkelon near Gaza, black strips could be seen along the Mediterranean coastline. At Gador Nature Reserve near the northern city of Hadera, the tar smeared fish, turtles, and other sea creatures.

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The reason and timing of the spill are yet to be determined, but stormy weather earlier this week is believed to have pushed the pollutants ashore. On Thursday, a baby whale washed up dead on a beach near Tel Aviv, and authorities are investigating whether the two incidents are linked