Kishon River
Country Israel
District Haifa District
City Haifa
Mouth Mediterranean Sea

The Kishon River (Hebrew: נחל הקישון) is a river in Israel that flows into the Mediterranean Sea at the city of Haifa.


Kishon river near Haifa ChemicalsTemplate:Check

PikiWiki Israel 178 Architecture of Israel גשר על הקישון

Kishon River near Haifa; note polluted sediment and dead plants on riverbank

Bedawi of the Kishon

A Bedouin of the Kishon, 1913.

Considered 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 that there are more chemicals than water in the river, and that washing ones hands in this river can cause severe chemical burns.[1] 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.

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 didn't find statistical evidences that the diving in the Kishon caused the cancer. However, Minister of Defence, Shaul Mofaz, decided to compensate the divers' families in spite of the commission findings.

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[2] had a markedly elevated genotoxic potential.

A 2000 analysis of the river water revealed

... chlorinated compounds in discharges from the refineries[3], 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.

—Avishai et al. (2002)


  1. Andersson, Hilary (2000-09-25), "The Holy Land's poisonous river", BBC News,, retrieved 2007-08-28 
  2. Below the petrochemical industry zone, see Avishai et al. (2002)
  3. Fluorinated compounds precipitate into the river sediment: Avishai et al. 2002)


  • 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

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

pt:Quisom (Rio)

ru:Кишон (река) uk:Кішон (річка)

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