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Israeli Bombing of the Jiyeh Power Plant and consequent Oil Spill, Lebanon

The 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon resulted in human losses as well as environmental ones. The Jiyeh plant bombing on July 12th had serious environmental , economic and social impacts on Lebanon.


On July 12th 2006, Israel launched a war against Lebanon for 34 days. The war ended with the destruction of 92 bridges; 900 commercial enterprises, including small farms and factories; 66 government buildings; 350 schools; two hospitals; 50 health care centers; 15 power stations; water distribution networks; one dam; one sewage plant.... [1] and, according to Human Rights Watch the conflict resulted in at least 1,109 Lebanese deaths, the vast majority of whom were civilians, 4,399 injured, and an estimated 1 million displaced [2]. On July 15th 2006, the Israeli air forces bombed a thermal power station in Jiyeh, Lebanon, 30 km (19 mi) south of Beirut. Out of the 75,000 tons stored, 12 to 15 tons of fuel were spilled and 55,000 tons were burned. The Jiyeh Power Station oil spill is an environmental disaster caused by the release of heavy fuel oil into the eastern Mediterranean [1]. A 10 km wide oil slick covered 170 km of coastline,[2] and threatened Turkey and Cyprus. The oil slick killed fish, threatened the habitat of endangered green sea turtles, and potentially increased the risk of cancer. More than 70 sites were affected, from private to public beaches as well as historical and cultural touristic sites [3]. The Lebanese Ministry Of Environment pleaded to over 31 countries for help [4]. GreenLine, Ecopeace, The EU, the UNDP and UNEP as well as the Commission of Environmental Economics and Social Policy (CEEP) argued for the aid of Lebanon. Alison Kelley, an Alaskan expert, and Kuwait leapt to the help of Lebanon in the recovery phase since both have previous experience with oil spills [5]. The Finish presidency of the EU members stated that more technical help should be provided to Lebanon to assist with this serious issue. Japan, the US, Monaco and Canada helped fund cleaning campaigns. However, Greenline criticized the international community for ignoring the many environmental and legal issues on the war. The NGO played a very active role in the aftermath of situation, by planning clean up campaigns, press conferences and press releases to mobilize the national and international community. They conducted scientific and economic research of the oil spill to determine the cost of the damage and how to minimize its impact as much as possible. Along with their partners in the Netherlands, Greenline conducted a legal assessment discussing Israeli’s legal liabilities in the spill. Other local NGOs, such as the Sea of Lebanon Association and the Raffic Harri Foundation, organized cleaning campaigns along the Lebanese coast. Greenpeace sent divers to collect biological samples and monitor the seafloor. However, it should be mentioned that assessments and clean-up operations were delayed by four weeks while Israel continued bombing Lebanon. According to Lebanon's Environment Minister Yacoub Sarraf, Israeli jets deterred firemen from putting out the fire at the storage units, which continued for 10 days, and the Israeli Navy blockade stopped Lebanese and foreign officials from surveying the damage of the spill. The delay led to some heavy ecological damage to marine life. “The timing is quite essential with an oil spill. The more you wait, the more it spreads,” said Luisa Colasimone of the United Nations Environment Program. Two months after the oil spill, only 3% of the oil had been removed.  Seven years after the devastating results of the oil spill, Israel was held responsible by the UN General Assembly for the damages with an estimated value of 856 million USD to be paid to Lebanon as per the polluter pays principal. This was one of a series of 8 UN General Assemblies which were pretty similar however this one assigned a financial amount to the reparations. The decision was passed 170 to 6 in favor. The US, Canada and Israel along with 4 other countries were opposed, stating that the assembly was not the proper setting to discuss liabilities and war compensation. As justification to not paying, an Israel representative stated that the war also had some damages in terms of the environment and human lives in Israel. During the war Israel reported 156 deaths while Lebanon has 1,200 confirmed deaths [6].  Furthermore, Greenline described the oil spill as a catastrophe on an environmental, social and economic level. The spill had some the serious effect on the Lebanese coast. The oil extended over 150 km in width and 35 cm in depth. The spill led to the displacement of a quarter on the coastal population which was around 253,000 people.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Israeli Bombing of the Jiyeh Power Plant and consequent Oil Spill, Lebanon
State or province:Mount Lebanon
Location of conflict:Jiyeh
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Other
Thermal power plants
Specific commodities:Crude oil
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The oil spill resulted in many damages not just on an environmental level but as well on both the economic and social level. The Mediterranean is a host for a large marine biodiversity. Following the oil spill crabs and fish carcasses were seen on different beaches such as Batroun, Byblos, Tabarja and Ramelt Al Bayda. Sea Urchins and different bivalve species disappeared from the Lebanese coast. A massive mortality in marine fauna was recorded in Bybols, Heri and Batroun. The blue fin tuna, the loggerhead sea turtle and the monk seal were affected to the point of threatened-by-extinction by the spill [6]. The Eastern Mediterranean is a known nesting place for sea turtles; the oil covered the Lebanese shore making it hard for the turtle to lay the eggs on the shore. Furthermore many sharks and fish were unable to spawn due to the oil cover [7]. The effects of the oil spill were not just ecological but had some serious damages to the economy of Lebanon. Lebanon relies primarily on the touristic sector especially during the summer where everyone comes to enjoy the beach. If the war did not affect the sector, the oil spill did the job. The contamination of the beaches and private resorts led to a decrease in the number of visitors. According to the Ministry of Tourism Lebanon suffered a 3 billion USD lost in the sector. It is hard to determine if the economic losses were due to the unstable political situation or the beach pollution. However, even after the conflict was resolved, the sector kept hemorrhaging money. In particular, the fishery sector suffered a lot. The fishermen in Lebanon are amongst the poorest people, with an average monthly income of 200$. The Israeli sea blockade prevented the fishermen from heading out into sea, and the oil spill aftermath further harmed the fishing sector. The oil spill also caused some air pollution, since 20% of the oil evaporated creating a toxic spray with long-term effects [8]. Greenline was one of the first on sites collecting samples and assessing the situation. According to Greenline The type of oil released, heavy fuel oil, is among the most difficult to combat. Its viscous nature leads to prolonged persistence in the marine environment, such oils have the potential to cause widespread contamination of sensitive environmental and economic resources The total economic cost of this oil spill has been estimated to be more than 200 million dollars. They also organized cleaning campaigns. The cleanup took place before the conflicted came to a stop, Greenline hoped that this would create public awareness about the oil spill and its consequences as well as motivate people to help in the crisis. The cleaning campaigns were arrested after a week and left to the ministry of environment; due to the bureaucracy in Lebanon [9]. The UN provided technical support to the Ministry Of the Environment to do the proper assessment of the oil spill and the extent of the crisis[10]. There are no recent report to show the effect of the crisis to this day, most report date back to 2006-2008, just another example of environmental neglect in Lebanon.

Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:253,000
Start of the conflict:12/07/2006
End of the conflict:14/08/2006
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Environment
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Greenline, Ecopeace, The EU, the UNDP and UNEP as well as the Commission of Environmental economics and social policy ( CEEP)
Sea of Lebanon Association and the Raffic Harri foundation
Conflict & Mobilization
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Oil spills, Air pollution
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsPotential: Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Loss of livelihood
Other socio-economic impactsnegative economic impact on the fishermen, due to both a decline in the fishing output and a perceived risk in fish-consumption by the local population
Project StatusUnknown
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Although Israel was held accountable for the environmental crime by the UNGA and asked to pay reparations, no reparations were given to the Lebanese government.
Sources & Materials

[1]Israeli Bombardment Caused Environmental Disaster in Lebanon
[click to view]

[2]Oil-spill clean-up delayed by conflict
[click to view]

[3]Oil Spill Catastrophe
[click to view]

[4]Oil Spill – Lebanon
[click to view]

[4] Lebanon’s biggest environmental catastrophe: 15,000 ton oil spill hits coast
[click to view]

[5] Israel’s cold shoulder
[click to view]


[click to view]

[7] Causalities of war : Lebanon's Trees, Air and Sea
[click to view]

[8] Environmental Impact of the 2006 Lebanon War
[click to view]


July 2006 – July 2007
[click to view]

[10] Environmental Emergency Response

to the Lebanon Crisis
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Mira Husseini, AUB
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:2889
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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