Achziv beach, northern Israel
Achziv beach, northern IsraelFlash 90

A tar spill off of Israel’s Mediterranean coast has made beaches across the country dangerous for bathing, the Israeli government warned Sunday.

Late last week, a massive tar spill, apparently leaked from a passing vessel a week ago, hit Israel’s western coast, spreading black strips of tar onto beaches stretching from north of Haifa down to south of Ashkelon.

On Sunday, the Health Ministry, Interior Ministry, and Environmental Ministry warned that the tar pollution poses a serious health threat to bathers, and advised the public to avoid entering the water at any beaches on the Mediterranean.

A number of volunteers who traveled to Israeli beaches to help with cleanup efforts were treated for toxic fume inhalation.

Israel Nature and Parks Authority officials carried out an autopsy on the body of a 55-foot fin whale which washed up on Nitzanim Beach, finding pollutants, including what appeared to be tar, in the animal’s lungs.

Dr. Roni King, a veterinarian from the Nature and Parks Authority, said the evidence suggested the whale may have been killed by the tar spill.

“In the marine mammals lungs a black liquid was found. That material raises suspicions, and we will examine them.”