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Kishon River

Coordinates: 32°49′N 35°02′E / 32.817°N 35.033°E / 32.817; 35.033
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Kishon River
Kishon River near Haifa in 2010
Native nameנחל הקישון (Hebrew)
DistrictHaifa District
Physical characteristics
SourceMount Gilboa
MouthShefekh haKishon
 • location
Haifa Bay, Mediterranean Sea
Length70 km (43 mi)

The Kishon River (Hebrew: נחל הקישון, Nachal HaKishon; Arabic: نهر المقطع, romanizedNahr al-Muqaṭṭa‘,[1][2][3]the river of slaughter or dismemberment; alternative Arabic, الكيشون al-Kīšūn) is a river in Israel that flows into the Mediterranean Sea near the city of Haifa.



The Kishon River is a 70 kilometres (43 mi)-long perennial stream in Israel. Its farthermost 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.[4] Its drainage basin, of 1,100 square kilometres (420 sq mi), includes much of Jezreel Valley and the Western Galilee, and parts of Mount Carmel.

Biblical references


The Kishon is mentioned six times in the Hebrew Bible, among them the following verses:

Modern history

Jewish Halutzim swimming in the Kishon river, 1924. Younes & Soraya Nazarian digital collections, University of Haifa

Following the end of the First World War there was an increase in the number of Jewish settlers 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.[5] Under the British Mandate the area became Haifa's industrial zone with a power station, railway workshops and the Iraq Petroleum Company refinery.[6]


Kishon River after cleanup, 2010

Considered the most polluted river in Israel by several government authorities on the matter,[7] 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 was claimed in 2000,[8] that there are more chemicals than water in the river, and that washing one's hands in this river can cause severe chemical burns. 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[9]), 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, below the petrochemical industry zone,[10] had a markedly elevated genotoxic potential.

A 2000 analysis of the river water revealed chlorinated compounds in discharges from the refineries,[11] 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.[10]

As of January 4, 2016; 1,000,000 cubic meters per year of potable water is added to the Kishon River and had decreased concentrations of salts, nitrates and phosphates, by over 50%. This flow will be replaced by the Jezreel Valley springs, as their flow is removed from irrigation.[12]



In 2012, the Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection launched a tender to clean up the Kishon river in a project costing NIS 220 million.[13][14] Much of the funding for the project came from the companies responsible for the pollution.[15] The Canadian company EnGlobe Corp. began work in 2012 to clean up the river.[13][16] The cleanup project is to be concluded in 2015.[17][needs update][18]

Shayetet 13

IDF training in the Kishon River, 1969-1970

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[19] that diving in the Kishon caused the cancers. However, despite the commission findings, the Defense Ministry decided to compensate select litigants. A new probe initiated in December 2021 concluded in February 2022 that the veterans had been exposed to a high amount of toxic chemicals, and it was subsequently decided to provide compensation to anyone who had trained in the Kishon River and fallen ill.[20]

See also



  1. ^ Henderson, Archibald (1884). Palestine. Its Historical Geography, with topographical index and maps. Edinburgh: T&T Clark. p. 205.
  2. ^ Public Domain Easton, Matthew George (1897). "Kishon". Easton's Bible Dictionary (New and revised ed.). T. Nelson and Sons.
  3. ^ "Map of Western Palestine in 26 sheets from the surveys conducted for the Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund by Lietenanats C.R. Conder and H.H. Kitchener R.E. during the years 1872-1877." (Map). Map of Western Palestine. London: Palestine Exploration Fund. 1880. Sheet 5, sections Li, Kh.
  4. ^ "Cleaning up the Kishon River". Ministry of the Environment (Israel). Archived from the original on 14 March 2012. 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.
  5. ^ Duff, Douglas V. (1934). Sword for Hire. The Saga of a Modern Free-Companion (1st ed.). London: John Murray. pp. 118-120.
  6. ^ Matson, G. Olaf (c. 1946). The Palestine Guide including Trans-Jordan (Fifth ed.). Jerusalem: Joshua Simon. pp. 324,327.
  7. ^ Herut, B (2000). "Nutrient pollution at the lower reaches of Mediterranean coastal rivers of Israel". Water Science and Technology. 42 (1–2): 147–152. doi:10.2166/wst.2000.0306. ProQuest 17043867.
  8. ^ Andersson, Hilary (2000-09-25). "The Holy Land's poisonous river". BBC News. BBC News Online. Retrieved 2007-08-28.
  10. ^ a b 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)
  11. ^ Fluorinated compounds precipitate into the river sediment: Avishai et al. 2002
  12. ^ "Once-polluted Kishon River undergoing rehab with the help of tap water". jpost.com. 4 January 2016. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  13. ^ a b "Tender Launched for Kishon River Cleanup". www.sviva.gov.il. Archived from the original on 2014-08-19.
  14. ^ "Kishon River: From poison to pristine". israel21c.org. 2011-04-28. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  15. ^ Pundak, Chen (9 March 2013). "Kishon River to undergo NIS 220M rehabilitation". Ynetnews. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  16. ^ "Canadian firm to dredge, purify Kishon River". jpost.com. 15 January 2013. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  17. ^ "Kishon River Remediation". Israel Ministry of Environmental Protection. January 2015.
  18. ^ Golan, Tal (2016). "The Fall and Rise of the Kishon River". Water. 8 (7): 283–300. doi:10.3390/w8070283. ProQuest 1803831890.
  19. ^ Sharon B. Megdal, Susanna Eden (July 2016). "The Fall and Rise of the Kishon River". Water. 8 (7): 283. doi:10.3390/w8070283.
  20. ^ Defense Ministry to recognize soldiers who swam in toxic river as disabled veterans

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