Arava oil spill
Arava oil spillIsraeli Environmental Protection Ministry/Flash 90

The cost of the massive pipeline oil spill in the Arava desert, near Be'er Ora 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of Eilat in the southern Negev, will cost Israel a whopping 30 million shekels ($7.6 million) according to Dr. Gilad Golub, director of Israel's Environmental Services Company.

Golub told Walla! that the value of the oil spilled stands between six and ten million shekels, in addition to the cost of damages to tens of thousands of tons of land, with each ton costing hundreds of shekels to clean.

"A small part of the treatment will be on fires, and a large part will be biological treatment which is cheaper," Golub explained. "This is massive damage. The danger itself needs to be removed within two months, but to rehabilitate landscape will take years."

The doctor noted that "just clearing the waste from the area and the treatment of it is anticipated to take around a year."

Golub told AFP on Thursday that 1,000 cubic meters - the equivalent of 40 tanker trucks - of oil had been spilled. Speaking about the cause of the massive leak, he noted "we do not suspect an act of sabotage," saying it appeared that a vehicle had hit part of the pipeline, causing the leak.

Firefighting crews and emergency rescue teams were able to stop the leak within hours and start working to extract the oil, but several streams of it reached the Avrona Reserve, one of the most important reserves in the Arava.

The reserve houses the most northernmost found doum palm trees in the world, and it has a large population of gazelles.

Environmental activists have declared the spill an "environmental disaster," with Environment Ministry officials saying it is possible that “thousands” of plants and animals have been affected by the oil.

Humans have felt the brunt of the spill too, with Jordanian media reporting Thursday that roughly 80 people in the country were suffering trouble breathing from the fumes of the run-off oil.