Tel Aviv in Dust Storm_390.
(photo credit: Elana Kirsh)
Dust storms swept from Egypt into Israel on Monday, keeping many people indoors
for the last day of Passover.
From late morning until evening, a high
level of air pollution overtook much of the country, with high concentrations of
dust particles capable of passing into human respiratory tracts, the
Environmental Protection Ministry said. The high levels of air pollution were
the result of a deep low pressure system over the eastern Mediterranean Sea that
brought strong winds and thereby dust and sand storms from Egypt into Israel,
the ministry explained.
Due to the high risk of airborne contamination,
the ministry recommended that members of sensitive populations – such as heart
and lung patients, the elderly, children and pregnant women – refrain from
strenuous physical activities in the areas affected by the
Throughout the day, the presence of small respirable particles
from 10 microns in size proved to be very high, the Environment Ministry
Levels in the North were overall about three to three and a
half times those on a clear day, while in the South they were about three times
and in the Center – including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem – the levels were four
times those of a clear day.
Short-term peak concentrations were much more
astounding, with levels in the North reaching 30 to 40 times those of a clear
day, 95 times in Jerusalem, 30 times in Beersheba and 36 times in the southern
coastal plain areas of Ashkelon and Yavne, the ministry said.
dust storms and the warnings, about 100,000 tourists still took to the country’s
national parks and nature reserves to enjoy their final day of Passover. A beach
sand sculpture event at Beit Yannai alone received more than 8,000 visitors,
with a walrus piece winning first prize for the day, according to the Israel
Nature and Parks Authority.
Overall throughout the holiday, about 1.2
million people traveled to national parks and nature reserves during what proved
to be a predominantly sunny and warm week. The most popularly visited sites were
Yarkon National Park, Palmahim National Park, the Banias Nature Reserve, Tel Dan
Nature Reserve, Caesarea National Park and Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, the INPA