Sewage row on Tel Aviv's beaches

This has been one of the warmest Israeli summers in memory but almost daily, some of the most central beaches on the Mediterranean coast have been closed due to pollution.

So far this year, the Health Ministry has ordered the closure of 15 public beaches due to the excessive amounts of waste and sewage discovered in the water.

Environmentalist groups have accused the local authorities of not investing sufficiently in modernising sewage treatment works, instead relying on pipelines pumping excess sewage into the sea whenever the antiquated systems are close to overflowing.

Among the cities where beaches were closed are Herzliya, Haifa, Tel-Aviv and Ashdod.

The Environment Protection Ministry has also been criticised for its failure to enforce the law on large industrial plants which routinely pump waste into the sea.

The Ministry has responded saying that despite recent closures, the quality of the water off Israel's coast has steadily improved and that the
overall number of beach closures over the last decade has been reduced
significantly.

    Last updated: 12:47pm, August 12 2010