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92.4% of Israel’s beaches clean or very clean

Meanwhile, the number of drownings are nearing last year's total.

Israelis enjoy the beach on a hot summer day in Tel Aviv, June 2, 2023. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.
Israelis enjoy the beach on a hot summer day in Tel Aviv, June 2, 2023. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.

The Environmental Protection Ministry’s clean beach index data for the second half of June shows that 92.4% of the open beaches in Israel were rated clean or very clean, compared to 85% at this time last year.

But halfway through the 2023 beach season, the number of drownings in Israel is approaching the total for all of last year, according to the Knesset’s Information and Research Center.

A total of 21 people died between March 29 and July 10 compared to 26 in last year’s entire bathing season. This year’s season lasts until Oct. 14. 

The Environmental Protection Ministry is assisting local authorities in coastal areas in strengthening enforcement operations to maintain the cleanliness of the beaches as part of the ministry’s Clean Beach Program. The program, funded in the amount of approximately 1 million shekels (some $275,000), will enable 7,458 hours of supervision by Israel Police officers on the coasts during the summer months.

The Environmental Protection Ministry called on the public to refrain from bringing plastic waste to the beaches and to keep the beaches clean.

MK Ya’akov Asher (United Torah Judaism), chairman of the Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee, commissioned the Information and Research Center report, which was presented on Sunday at a committee meeting with lawmakers examining ways to reduce the number of fatalities.

“The trend that emerges from the report is that we are already facing a number of deaths approaching the number accumulated last year as a whole. This requires drawing conclusions and taking immediate actions,” said Asher.

Most of the deaths occurred on unauthorized beaches or at times when no lifeguard was on duty. According to the report, bathing is permitted at 156 beaches, just 7% of the beaches in Israel.

“Thanks to publicizing and increasing the number of authorized beaches, we can save human lives,” Asher said.

The report comes amid a major heat wave sending many people in search of water to cool off.

The highest temperatures of 38° to 43°C (100° to 109°F) were recorded in southern Israel and the Jordan Valley.

The heat wave, which is affecting the Eastern Mediterranean region, as well as the Balkans and much of Europe, is expected to continue into next week.

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