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New Israeli Oil Spill Averted As Sunken Tanker is Raised

A sunken Israeli tanker was salvaged over the weekend without causing a major oil spill.

But the captain of another Israeli tanker was accused by an Israeli panel Friday of not cooperating fully with Egypt in the investigation of an oil spill in Egyptian waters two months ago.

British salvage experts, with the aid of the Cypriot salvage tug Flying Enterprise, managed to ease the 1,000-ton refueling tanker Eyal from the sea bed about a mile from Herzliya, a wealthy suburb and beach resort north of Tel Aviv.

The Eyal, which is tiny by tanker standards, was floated without spilling any of the 600 tons of oil still aboard. About 60 tons seeped out of the damaged hull when the ship grounded and sank a week earlier.

Divers sealed the hull, and compressed air was pumped in. The Eyal was raised bottom-up and then towed in that position to a repair yard in Haifa, where it was due to arrive Sunday night.

Meanwhile, Capt. Yosef Zvi of the government-owned tanker Nyuta was raked over by the former commander of the Israeli navy, Adm. Avraham Botzer, mainly for acts of omission.

Botzer was appointed by Energy Minister Moshe Shahal to head an inquiry into an alleged spill of oil from the Nyuta into the Gulf of Suez.

He faulted Zvi for failing to inform the Nyuta’s operators, Tanker Services Ltd., when the vessel was first accused of spilling oil on Oct. 17.

The citation was made by the captain of a patrol boat of the Multinational Force and Observers, who informed the Egyptian authorities. The force monitors the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty in Sinai and adjacent waters.

Botzer criticized Zvi for refusing to leave his ship to answer questions when he was approached by the Egyptian police in East Zeit Bay.

The Nyuta and its crew were detained for three weeks by the Egyptians. It was released last month, after President Hosni Mubarak intervened.

Capt. Zvi, freed on bail, promised to show up for trial at an Egyptian admiralty court. The trial, to have begun last week, was postponed until Jan. 2. No explanation was given.

But after learning he could face a prison sentence, Zvi said he will not return to Egypt.

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