“We are in favor of the development of natural gas, but we are also in favor of our health,” MK Gabbay stated at the rally.
Labor leader MK Avi Gabbay joined protesters in calling to remove gas rigs from Dor Beach near Haifa in Israel’s north.

“There is no more just struggle than the struggle for our health,” said Gabbay, at the rally which saw activists from the Shomrei HaBayit organization join with demonstrators from the Labor party.

Israel’s discovery of natural gas off the coast has the nation both excited for the economic benefits and concerned over the environmental impact.

Parts of Noble Energy’s Leviathan platform began making their way to Israel in December and are on schedule to be deployed off Israel’s coast in the first quarter of 2019. The legs of the gas rig were transported to Israel on large barges pulled by tugboats.

“Although the barges have arrive in Israel, it is not too late to correct this distorted plan, in the interests of the security of the state and the welfare of the country’s residents,” MK Gabbay said. “We are in favor of development and in favor of the State of Israel enjoying natural gas, but we are also in favor of our health,” he added.

Shomrei HaBayit, or “Guardians of the Homeland” have been in the forefront of warning about the dangers the oil rig could cause to the environment. They weaved black flags and wore black t-shirts with a skull-and-crossbones symbol as they stood on the sand with the waters of the Mediterranean in the background.

Discovered in 2010, Leviathan is the largest-ever gas find in the eastern Mediterranean and is being hailed as a game-changer in terms of energy independence and economic benefit.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu positioned the government’s natural gas policy as in the larger interest of the country’s national security, highlighting that it would ensure Israel’s position in the Middle East.

MK Yael Cohen Paran (Hatnuah) also spoke at the rally stating, “the platform is dangerous.” Noting that she was against the platform “since day one,” she praised past successes in curbing the gas field growth.

“Thanks to our struggle, Noble Energy’s emissions permit was canceled. This is a tremendous achievement. We will continue to work to cancel the construction permit of the platform that threatens us,’ she said.

MK Cohen Paran founded the Israel Energy Forum and has represented Israel at the United Nations Climate Change Conference.