Haifa Mayor Warns Beirut Could Happen Here

A view of the Haifa port. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The mayor of Haifa warned on Wednesday that the “horror scenario” in Beirut could happen in the Israeli port city as well, if action is not expedited to remove dangerous oil and chemical facilities there.

Haifa’s mayor, Einat Kalish Rotem, wrote online that “the fear of all of us, based on experts in the field, is exactly of a horror scenario like the one that erupted yesterday north of Israel….Yesterday we received a wake-up call from Beirut… There is no place for hazardous substances and polluting factories within the urban space and among the population. After being shocked by the harsh sights from Lebanon, it’s time to act.”

Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel said in a statement that the disaster in Beirut was “worrying” and reiterated her pledge to move the petrochemical industries from Haifa within a decade.

Concerns in Haifa were borne out a number of times in recent years. Among the most serious incidents occurred in 2016, when a large fire broke out at an oil refinery complex, sending toxic black clouds floating over the bay for hours.

The Tel Aviv City Hall, illuminated in the colors of the flag of Lebanon, Wednesday night. (Twitter)

The Bazan Group oil refining and petrochemicals company was ordered earlier this year to pay $335,000 for negligence, pollution and violation of permits in connection with the incident.

Meanwhile, Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai said that city hall will be illuminated in the colors of the Lebanese flag, as an act of solidarity Wednesday night.

“This evening we will light up City Hall with the flag of Lebanon. Humanity comes before any conflict, and our heart is with the Lebanese people following the terrible disaster that befell them,” Huldai wrote on Twitter.