Kishon River

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Kishon River (Nahal Kishon)
Park Kishon, Haifa 023.JPG
Kishon River near Haifa in 2010
Country Israel
District Haifa District
City Haifa
Source Gilboa mountains
Mouth Shefekh haKishon
 - location Haifa Bay, Mediterranean Sea
Length 70 km (43 mi)

The Kishon River (Hebrew: נחל הקישון)(Arabic: Nahr el-Mokkat - the river of slaughter)[1][2] is a river in Israel that flows into the Mediterranean Sea at the city of Haifa.


The Kishon River is a 70-km-long perennial stream in Israel. Its source is the Gilboa mountains, and it flows in a west-northwesterly direction through the Jezreel Valley, emptying into the Haifa Bay in the Mediterranean Sea.[3]


The Kishon is mentioned twice in the Bible. 1 Kings VIII:40 names it the scene of the execution of the prophets of Baal on Elijah's orders and in Judges V:21 the Kishon River washes away the Canaanite army.

Following the end of the First World War there was an increase in the number Jewish colonists arriving in Palestine, the Third Aliyah. Those who arrived at Haifa were kept in a tented Quarantine Camps set up on the Kishon estuary. Many of the immigrants, Halutzim, were infected with malaria for which the area was notorious.[4] During the British Mandate the area became Haifa's industrial zone with a power station, railway workshops and the Iraq Petroleum Company refinery.[5]


Kishon River after cleanup, 2010

Considered[by whom?] the most polluted river in Israel, it has been the subject of controversy regarding the struggle to improve the water quality. The pollution stems in part from daily contamination for over 40 years with mercury, other heavy metals, and organic chemicals by nearby chemical plants.

It is often claimed today[citation needed] that there are more chemicals than water in the river, and that washing one's hands in this river can cause severe chemical burns.[6] On several occasions this river (or rather, patches of petrochemical waste on it) has caught fire from the chemical contaminants. Below Histadrut Bridge (Highway 4[verification needed]), after passing the petrochemical industries zone, the pH was 3 or below for most of the time in 2001.

A 2002 study found the ability of 3 hours' exposure to Kishon River water to induce DNA damage in rainbow-trout liver-cells to be on average threefold that of unpolluted water. Notably the lower Kishon[7] had a markedly elevated genotoxic potential.

A 2000 analysis of the river water revealed chlorinated compounds in discharges from the refineries,[8] the municipal sewage treatment plant and from the Haifa Chemicals fertilizer production plant. Heavy metals were present in the discharges from the Carmel Olefins and Haifa Chemicals plants. The upper river system may also be mixed with genotoxic materials from domestic waste and agricultural runoff that contain pesticides and fertilizers. Potent genotoxins usually found in domestic wastes also include N-nitroso compounds and aromatic amines, which are known to be present in human sanitary outflows as well as genotoxic PAHs found in municipal discharges.[9]

Shayetet 13[edit]

Since 2001, it was discovered that Shayetet 13 veterans had high occurrence of cancer, probably due to training in the polluted Kishon River and Haifa Bay. A commission for investigating the matter did not find statistical evidence[citation needed] that diving in the Kishon caused the cancers. However, despite the commission findings, Minister of Defence, Shaul Mofaz, decided to compensate the divers' families.


  1. ^ Henderson, Rev Archibald D.D. (1893) Palestine. Its Historical Geography, with topographical index and maps.T&T Clark, Edinburgh. Second edition, revised. p.211
  2. ^ Easton, M.G., M.A., D.D. (1893) 'Illustrated Bible Dictionary and Treasury of Biblical History, Biography, Geography, Doctrine, and Literature With Numerous Illustrations and Important Chronological Tables and Maps. T. Nelson and Sons, London, Edinburgh and New York. p.411
  3. ^ "Cleaning up the Kishon River". Ministry of the Environment (Israel). Retrieved 19 July 2011. "The 70-kilometer long river, which drains an area of 1100 square kilometers, starts in the Gilboa mountains, flows through the Jezreel Valley and empties into the sea at Haifa." 
  4. ^ Duff, Douglas V. (1934) Sword for Hire. The Saga of a Modern Free-Companion. John Murray, London. 1st Edition. pp.118-120
  5. ^ Matson, G. Olaf (c.1946) The Palestine Guide including Trans-Jordan. Joshua Simon, Jerusalem. Fifth Edition. pp.324,327
  6. ^ Andersson, Hilary (2000-09-25). "The Holy Land's poisonous river". BBC News (BBC News Online). Retrieved 2007-08-28 
  7. ^ Below the petrochemical industry zone, see Avishai et al. (2002)
  8. ^ Fluorinated compounds precipitate into the river sediment: Avishai et al. 2002)
  9. ^ Avishai, Nanthawan; Rabinowitz, Claudette; Moiseeva, Elisabeth & Rinkevich, Baruch (2002): Genotoxicity of the Kishon River, Israel: the application of an in vitro cellular assay. Mutation Research 518(1): 21–37. doi:10.1016/S1383-5718(02)00069-4 (HTML abstract)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 32°49′N 35°02′E / 32.817°N 35.033°E / 32.817; 35.033