The rate of malignant mesothelioma in the residents of the Israeli city of Nahayira is ten times higher than the average for the country as a whole, according to a report made by Dr. Shihab Shihab to the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee. Malignant mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos fibers. The committee has been holding hearings on the asbestos problem in Nahariya. Between 70 and 150 thousands cubic meters of asbestos-containing material is scattered through the region, primarily as fill in private yards, and Nahariya is extremely densely polluted by the asbestos contamination. According to the committee, funding has been provided to Nahayira in the past for asbestos abatement, but the money was never spent.
The chairman of the committee, Ophir Pines-Paz expressed outrage that the problem has not been addressed, claiming that political forces and the desire not to disturb the tourist economy are responsible for the lack of action, saying that “People pay with their lives and the authorities demonstrate intolerable apathy. Bureaucracy cannot be allowed to kill…Residents pay for this hazard with their lives, and instead of running from minister to minister with budget requests, the city council is busy planting flowers.” The committee moved to establish an investigative panel to address the Nahariya asbestos contamination problem.