Litter on Mikhmoret Beach near Hadera..
(photo credit: ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION MINISTRY)
While Israel markets itself as a sun-soaked beach destination, vacationers may not find the pristine sands they crave.
The Environmental Protection Ministry on Thursday declared that plastic bags have overtaken the nation’s coasts, as national beach cleanliness ratings plummeted. Only 48.5 percent of Israel’s beaches were deemed “clean” to “very clean” in the latest Clean Coast Index measure issued on Wednesday, a significant drop from the 58.6% rating two weeks earlier, the ministry reported.
“It should be noted that over the last week, we can identify that a plastic bag wave has washed over the coast and has influenced the deterioration in beach cleanliness,” a statement from the ministry said.”
Among the dirtiest beaches listed in the report were Sidney Ali Beach in Herzliya, Palmahim Sands in the Gan Rave Regional Council, Central Nahariya Beach, plus beaches in Acre and Hof Hacarmel.
The cleanest were Betzet Beach in the North, Hof Hasharon National Park, Tel Baruch in Tel Aviv, Bat Yam, Nahal Sorek Estuary National Park, Nitzanim Ashdod South and several beaches in Eilat, including Dag Sof, Sun Bay, Electric Company, Migdalor and Princess.
Also among the tidiest beaches is the military portion of Palmahim Sands, despite the fact that the public portion is one of the dirtiest.
Last weekend, as part of its 2016 Clean Coast program, ministry inspectors took to beaches throughout Israel and levied fines for a variety of environmental infractions. The Clean Coast program began in 2005 with the aim of eradicating beach litter, particularly at unauthorized beaches that lack lifeguard facilities.
On Thursday, the ministry stressed that “the responsibility for cleaning up beaches is in the hands of the local authorities.”