Skepticism of Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel’s claim that Iran was behind the oil spill was followed by denunciation on Thursday, as Greenpeace condemned her for politicizing an environmental disaster.
The group called Gamliel’s assertion of an environmental terror attack “outrageous and factually baseless at this stage.”
It further accused her of “minimizing the well-known and widespread phenomenon of marine pollution by ship oil spills. The minister’s conduct on the matter smells of electioneering and an attempt to score political points over an ecological disaster.”
Greenpeace was one of the organizations which assisted the ministry in its search for the vessel that was the source of the spill.
Meanwhile, the Israeli security establishment has launched its own investigation, according to Channel 12. Apparently, it was not consulted in the Environment Ministry’s investigation.
The ministry has handed over its report on the matter to intelligence and security bodies which are now reviewing its findings, the network said.
Asked in an interview on Army Radio on Thursday whether she could prove the spill was an intentional attack, Gamliel doubled down. “To say that this isn’t terrorism, that it was an accident, is an inappropriate approach to the incident,” she said.
The investigation determined the ship was smuggling oil from Iran to Syria when the spill occurred in early February.
“The fact that no one knew about the ship that smuggled crude oil from Iran to Syria, that dumped oil and turned off its radar is a failure that needs to be investigated,” she said. She said that Israel’s Defense Ministry “had to give explanations.”
The ministry did not have any immediate comment. The Israeli military, Foreign Ministry and Prime Minister’s Office also have not commented on Gamliel’s claims.
AP contributed to this report.