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    Strong odor wafts through central Israel's air
    Stench triggers outpour of complaints; Environmental Protection Ministry says smell poses no danger to public

    Residents of central Israel reported a foul smell wafting in the air Thursday morning.


    Following an outpour of complaints, the IDF's Home Front Command informed local authorities that the smell originated at a gas drilling site near Nitzanim, officials said.


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    The Environmental Protection Ministry launched a series of urgent tests and later announced that the odor poses no danger to the public, but stressed that it continues efforts to find what triggered the stench.


    The ministry said that tests conducted in the Tel Aviv region show negligible traces of harmful substances in the air. The stench was primarily reported in central Israel's Dan and Sharon districts.


    Ramat Hasharon Mayor Itzik Rochberger told Ynet that Home Front Command notified him that the odor emanated from the drilling site. He slammed the Environmental Protection Ministry for not keeping up.


    "What would have happened if this was a harmful substance? Why aren't the systems coordinated?" he pondered.


    However, no confirmation was received from the IDF that the stench in fact came from the gas drilling site.


    Chemical attack?

    A resident of Bnei Zion described the odor as "the smell of poison, a chemical smell, similar to that of pesticide."


    "Are we under a chemical attack? The smell lingers in the air. I am throwing up and having trouble breathing," she added.


    Ran Biton, an environmental consultant working in southern Tel Aviv, said the smell resembled the odor of bromine or chlorine.


    "This is an unusual incident," he said. "A high concentration of this substance could be dangerous."


    The two residents called the municipality but were told that the origin of the stench was unknown.


    Gilad Morag contributed to the report




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    Smell was first reported near Azrieli
    Photo: Yaron Brener