After quakes, defense minister says earthquake protection plan ready to go
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After quakes, defense minister says earthquake protection plan ready to go

As five temblors hit northern Israel in two days, Avigdor Liberman reveals new plan to go before cabinet this month

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

Members of the Knesset Honor Guard, Home Front Command, firefighters, IDF, Israel Police and Magen David Adom Emergency Medical Services participate in an emergency drill simulating an earthquake at the Knesset, Jerusalem, June 13, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Members of the Knesset Honor Guard, Home Front Command, firefighters, IDF, Israel Police and Magen David Adom Emergency Medical Services participate in an emergency drill simulating an earthquake at the Knesset, Jerusalem, June 13, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman announced Thursday that a new multi-year plan to protect Israel from earthquakes will be presented to the cabinet this month. The announcement came after Israel registered its fifth earthquake in two days.

None were reported to have caused injuries or damage.

“Last year, we carried out the biggest earthquake exercise in years,” the minister said in a statement.

“We learned many lessons, one of which was the need for a multi-year home front defense plan, especially for the north. This month, we’ll present it to the cabinet and I’m sure we’ll get the green light and budget to get started.”

An officer from the Home Front Command talks to students during an emergency drill at an Israeli school, October 2012 (photo credit: Oren Nahshon/Flash90)
An officer from the Home Front Command talks to students during an emergency drill at an Israeli school, October 2012. (Oren Nahshon/Flash90)

The first quake this week, which took place early Wednesday morning in the northern Galilee area, measured 4.3 on the Richter scale. It was felt in the Haifa region and northern Israel.

Thursday brought a temblor weaker than the preceding ones, measuring between 3.1 and 3.2 on the Richter scale. Its epicenter was near Tiberias.

Israel is situated along the Syrian-African rift, a tear in the earth’s crust running the length of the border separating Israel and Jordan, and is part of the Great Rift Valley, which extends from northern Syria to Mozambique.

Northern Israel and areas around Jerusalem and the Dead Sea are high risk of a quake measuring five to 5.9 on the Richter scale, according to the World Health Organization, with the central and southern coastal areas and the Negev Desert at medium risk of a quake in the 4 to 4.9 range.

Experts have warned a large earthquake could strike Israel in the near future, and the government has begun funding projects for public buildings to be bolstered against tremors.

An apartment building undergoing strengthening through the Tama 38 regulations. New bomb-proof rooms can be seen to the right and left of the balconies. (YouTube screenshot)

Furthermore, a national plan for strengthening older buildings against earthquakes — known by the Hebrew acronym TAMA — relaxes zoning rules and gives developers rights to add extra floors and apartments to existing buildings to cover the costs of strengthening buildings and adding bomb-proof rooms to apartments.

The last major earthquake to hit the region was in 1927 — a 6.2-magnitude tremor that killed 500 people and injured another 700.

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