Aqaba as seen from the city of Eilat
Aqaba as seen from the city of EilatNati Shohat/Flash 90

200 tons of crude oil leaked into the Gulf of Aqaba from Jordan's Aqaba port on Tuesday, Haaretz reports, raising fears in Israel of possible contamination on Eilat's beaches and harm to its coral reef.

Initial reports suggested that the oil spill was drifting southward toward the beaches of Jordan and Saudi Arabia, but due to the proximity of the spill, at least some of the oil is expected to reach Israeli beaches.

A spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry told AFP late on Tuesday that Jordan has informed Israel of the pipeline leak in the Red Sea.

"Israel has been informed of this leak and remains in contact with the Jordanians while standing ready to provide assistance in equipment and personnel," the spokesman said, adding that the Jordanians are dealing with the matter.

Israel's Ministry of Environmental Protection began preparations to aid in cleanup and containment, but has yet to receive a request for assistance from Jordan, according to Haaretz.

The two countries have held joint exercises in the past to deal with situations of this type, the last one being held less than one year ago.

According to protocol, the response to the environmental incident is to include initial attempts to remove the oil from the water via suction tubes and additionally to block the oil from drifting further out to sea.

Israeli officials said they were unaware of the details or cause of the spill, but reports seemed to suggest that the leak had been the result of a burst pipe and not from a container. The leak from the pipe was said to have been stopped.

The head of the Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company, Erez Halfon, on Tuesday evening turned to the Jordanian authorities through the Environment and Foreign Ministries, and offered them his company’s assistance in cleaning up the oil spill.

In his letter, Halfon noted that forces should be joined to prevent any damage to the Gulfs of Aqaba and Eilat, and that company employees have the knowledge, expertise, and skills that are needed, as well as the equipment designed to handle such an event.