The Environmental Protection Ministry on Thursday denied a report from Home Front Command saying that drilling was the source of a mysterious chemical smell in the Tel Aviv region.

"We are not dealing with rumors," the spokesman said. "There is no gas drilling in Nitzanim. The army is just saying it."

He added that the ministry is still looking into the problem, hoping to find its source with 100% accuracy, but said there is no telling when they will know for sure.

Home Front Command said earlier that the chlorine-like smell was the result of drilling near the Nitzanim area, Army Radio reported.

Residents in the Gush Dan region complained to local authorities on Thursday of a sharp, chemical smell in the air, according to Israeli media reports.

Tel Aviv Police added that no injuries have been reported as a result of the chlorine smell.

The Environmental Protection Ministry said based on tests it performed that the smell is not hazardous to the public.

Chairman of the Joint Committee for Health and Environment MK Dov Henin (Hadash) demanded that the authorities urgently clarify the source of the smell, and take the necessary steps to protect the public.

"This is further proof that we must act meticulously and carefully on environmental issues, when dealing with actions that could endanger the environment and public health," Henin said. He added that he regretted the government was going in the opposite direction, "instead of advancing a green path, it is making it easier to drill for gas and oil in the sea and beaches."

Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.

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