Earthquake News

Israel is not prepared for the impending major earthquake, according to analysis

On December 19, 2019, participants in a simulation simulating an earthquake in Ashkelon included the Home Front Command, Israel's Magen David Adom Emergency Medical Services, the Knesset Honor Guard, and firefighters.

The two earthquakes that shook Israel in less than 24 hours need to serve as a warning for the government and security agencies to get ready for an impending major one.

At 11:36 p.m., a 3.7-magnitude earthquake occurred. on Saturday evening, with a 19 km wide epicenter. According to the Geological Survey of Israel, Beit Shean is to the northeast. On Sunday around noon, a 3.5-magnitude earthquake occurred near Tiberias.

Although relatively minor, residents of Beit She'an, Afula, and other nearby cities were evacuated from structures.

Although the majority of earthquakes in the area are small, scientists have cautioned that Israel should be prepared for a large earthquake with a Richter scale greater than 6 to strike at any time.

The nation is located along the Great Rift Valley's Syrian-African Fault, which extends from northern Syria to Mozambique and crosses the boundary between Israel and Jordan.

Sediments from the Dead Sea were disturbed by earthquakes, as seen in the drill core. (Image courtesy of TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY)

Israel experienced its most recent significant earthquake in 1927, close to Jericho. It measured 6.2 on the Richter scale and caused 700 extra injuries in addition to nearly 500 fatalities. On January 1, 1837, a second significant earthquake with a Richter magnitude of 6.5 occurred in the Galilee close to Safed. A following landslide caused it to kill 6,000–7,000 people, according to estimates.

Home Front Command has trained more than 74,000 pupils to act as first responders in the event of an earthquake and provide assistance until professional rescue personnel arrive. The government has been sponsoring programs related to earthquake preparedness.

Israel's ambitious TAMA 38 national plan, which called for extensive reinforcing of ancient structures around the nation, was approved in 2005.

Only a small number of the over 150,000 residential buildings that were intended to be reinforced have been reinforced in the 16 years following the plan's inception. The majority of them are in the center of Israel, not in outlying areas like Beit She'an, Tiberias, or Afula, which are nearer to the Great Rift Valley and would most likely be destroyed by a significant earthquake.
Along the rift, thousands of Israelis reside in structures that would probably collapse or sustain substantial damage when the big earthquake hits

Although Israel is theoretically prepared for earthquakes and where they might occur, as well as where they might be greater or weaker, Brig.-Gen. Former head of the National Emergency Authority (RAHEL), (ret.) Zeev Zuk-Ram (Vova), told The Jerusalem Post in a recent interview.

Although we have a considerable deal of expertise, we cannot argue that we are operationally equipped... According to him, preparation doesn't simply involve fortifying buildings and hospitals; the populace also needs to be ready for when it occurs.

Home Front Command has participated in several drills, is regarded as one of the top organizations for search and rescue operations, and is capable of being transported to disaster sites, but it will not be able to handle the catastrophe the nation will face.

According to a report from the Construction and Housing Ministry in August 2020, just NIS 7 million of the NIS 5 billion the government had set out for earthquake-proofing structures had actually been transferred.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz issued a warning last year, saying that since neither the infrastructure nor the authorities are equipped to handle such a situation, prompt action is needed.

He warned at a RAHEL conference that "the window of opportunity" to get ready for such a major earthquake is narrowing.

He said, "We need RAHEL to gather all the various elements. Although earthquake preparedness has increased over the past few decades, Israel still has 80,000 dwelling units that are extremely vulnerable to collapsing in the event of an earthquake.

Gantz compared the predicament to Israel's lack of preparedness before and throughout the current coronavirus pandemic. But, he noted, "with an incident such as an earthquake, there is no time... Hence, the preparedness should start now," unlike with COVID-19, where authorities had time to learn about the virus and respond to it.

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