The coast of Israel, southeast Mediterranean

B. Herut, B. Galil

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The Israeli coast, at the southeastern corner of the Mediterranean, describes a slightly curved line, with Haifa Bay the sole embayment in the mostly sandy coast. The Nilotic sediments transported from the Nile delta northwards by the prevailing inner shelf and wave-induced longshore currents, produce a shallow shelf, narrowing considerably northwards. North of Haifa Bay, for lack of Nilotic sand, the coast is mostly rocky. Although the Neolithic city of Jericho, nearly 9000 years old, marks the beginning of civilization, only in the late 19th century did anthropogenic changes begin affecting the environment. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1864-linking the Red Sea with the Mediterranean-allowed hundreds of Erythean species to settle along the Levantine coasts. Some abundant invaders are exploited commercially, others constitute a nuisance or economic burden, and yet others out-compete native species. The Levantine Basin is considered the most impoverished in the Mediterranean. The completion of the high dam at Aswan in the mid 1960s deprived the Levant of its influx of freshwater, nutrients and sediments, contributing to the diminishing sediment transport and negatively impacting fisheries. The rapid increase in population density along the Israeli coastal plain in the past half-century, and its consequent urbanization, generated land reclamation schemes. Sand mining in the past and the existing marine structures along the coast have depleted sand reserves and increased coastal erosion. Effluents, such as sewage, agricultural run-off or industrial wastes may increase nutrient loading locally, most notably in Haifa Bay and in some lower reaches of the coastal streams. In such nutrient-enhanced sites, appropriate ambient physical conditions may cause the development of toxic algal blooms. Yet, overall, levels of toxic contaminants are low, except for Haifa Bay with its concentration of heavy industries. Protective measures and monitoring activities are implemented by several legislative / administrative systems, and by removal and abating land-base pollution sources. A modified National Plan for the Israeli Mediterranean coast-including fourteen marine reserves-is in the process of affirmation and should provide a tool for an integrated sustainable coastal zone management.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSeas at the millennium - an environmental evaluation - Volume 1
EditorsC.R.C. Sheppard
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)0080432077
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • General Environmental Science


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