Despite tight secrecy by security apparatuses in Tel Aviv concerning an oil spill that hit the country’s shores last month, an Israeli minister accused Iran of intentionally polluting the beaches as a retaliation for the killing of General Qassem Soleimani and Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.
“The connection to Iran is a direct one, it is not an unknown one,” Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel said Thursday.
A day earlier, the minister said “Iran is waging terrorism by harming the environment,” and revealed that crude oil tanker called Emerald, owned and operated by a Libyan company, was illegally carrying cargo from Iran to Syria before causing the oil spill.
“The ship was flying Panama's flag. Iran is waging terrorism not only by trying to arm itself with nuclear weapons or trying to establish a basis near our borders,” she said.
The ecological disaster, one of the worst in the country’s history, has caused extensive damage and forced the closure of beaches and a ban on the sale of seafood from the Mediterranean.
Meanwhile, a company called TankerTrackers has sent new information to the Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection, documenting the course of the ship to the eastern Mediterranean and to Israel’s economic water zone from Iran’s Kharg Island, in the Persian Gulf.
The company said the Emerald was docked on Kharg Island, an Iranian island in the Persian Gulf, on January 17, 2021 and that Iranian crude oil was loaded onto it at that time.
“The oil eventually leaked, and ultimately reached Israel's shoreline, resulting in one of the worst environmental disasters in Israel's history,” the ministry said.
According to TankerTrackers, satellite photos taken on Feb. 5 showed oil stain some 130 kilometers off Israel's coast, which could be associated with the tanker in question.
Other photos from Feb. 11 revealed the oil stain from Feb. 5th begins to move and can be seen 50 kilometers off Israel's coast.
Iranian oil tankers increasingly have been accused of smuggling oil out of the country and selling the lucrative crude abroad after then-President Donald Trump withdrew from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers nearly three years ago.
“On Feb. 14, a satellite photo shows the Emerald passing west of Syria (near the Banias) conducting an STS transfer of 750,000 barrels of Iranian crude oil to the Lotus, a Syrian ship flying an Iranian flag,” the tracking company said.