Summer, Beaches, Pollution

Murky Waters: These are the Most Polluted Beaches in Israel

Ministry report highlights rising beach pollution levels across Israel

Israelis on the beach in Tel Aviv on a hot summer day on June 15, 2024. (Photo by Flash90)

Planning a beach escape from the heat? Think twice before diving in. A new Ministry of Health report highlights a four-year peak in fecal bacteria found in the Mediterranean Sea.

High Pollution Levels Detected

The Ministry of Health's latest report indicates a significant increase in fecal bacteria levels on Mediterranean beaches, posing potential health risks like gastrointestinal and skin problems. Out of over 7,800 water samples taken this year, 4.1% tested positive for fecal enterococci and 3.2% for fecal coliform bacteria.

Pollution Hotspots and Clean Zones

The Quiet Beach in Haifa recorded the highest abnormal levels of fecal enterococci at 14.9%. Rishon Lezion's beaches topped for abnormal enterococci readings, while Hadera showed the lowest presence. Tel Aviv beaches were most polluted by fecal coliform bacteria compared to Hadera, Netanya, and Rishon Lezion, which reported none.

Causes of Water Pollution

Sources of water pollution include Gaza sewage discharge, stormwater runoff due to urban density, local sewage flow, and occasional oil spills.

Expert Insights

Amir Yitzhaki, head of the Ministry of Health's National Environmental Health Department, commented: "The report reflects our ongoing efforts and aims to assess the current situation compared to previous years. Detection of these bacteria indicates a source of fecal contamination in the water, though not all beachgoers exposed will necessarily fall ill."

Mori Galboa, CEO of Zalul Environmental Association, emphasized issues with illegal infrastructure connections contributing to widespread contamination across the country.

*Ynet contributes to this report.

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