Minor earthquake hits Israel, West Bank

IDF’s Home Front Command says 3.5-magnitude tremor centered in area between settlement city of Ariel and Jerusalem

Illustrative: A view of the Israeli settlement of Ariel, in the West Bank on July 2, 2020. (Sraya Diamant/Flash90)
Illustrative: A view of the Israeli settlement of Ariel, in the West Bank on July 2, 2020. (Sraya Diamant/Flash90)

The Israeli military’s Home Front Command confirmed that a minor earthquake hit Israel Tuesday night, with tremors reported in Jerusalem and in areas near the capital in the West Bank.

The 3.5-magnitude tremor occurred at 11:14 p.m. local time and was centered around 15 kilometers (9 miles) southeast of the settlement city of Ariel in the West Bank, the Energy Ministry’s Seismology Division said.

Ariel is about 38 kilometers (24 miles) north of Jerusalem, where residents reported feeling the quake alongside Israelis living in Mevasseret Zion, about 13 kilometers (8 miles) west of Jerusalem, and as far west as Beit Shemesh, about 35 kilometers (21 miles) away.

The Home Front Command said the earthquake warning system was not activated because the tremor did not pose a danger to residents.

Ariel Mayor Eliyahu Shaviro said his office was in touch with the Home Front Command and issued a notice to Ariel residents about the minor quake.

Israel is located on the Syrian African Rift, a vulnerable area for earthquakes that runs through the Jordan Valley, down the eastern side of the country. Experts have warned that Israeli infrastructure is not adequately prepared for a major earthquake.

Intensity map for a minor earthquake in Israel, February 7, 2023

The minor tremor followed a devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria on Monday — also felt in Israel — that claimed the lives of over 7,000 people so far. The toll is likely to climb further as freezing weather and multiple aftershocks are hampering the rescue efforts, despite international assistance, including from Israel.

The 7.8-magnitude quake struck Monday as people slept, flattening thousands of structures, and trapping an unknown number of people.

Turkey’s emergency management agency said the total number of deaths in the country had passed 5,400, with some 31,000 people injured.

In Syria, the quake-affected area is divided between government-held territory and the country’s last opposition-held enclave, which is surrounded by government forces and borders Turkey.

The death toll in government-held areas of Syria climbed over 800, with some 1,500 injured, according to the Health Ministry.

At least 1,000 people have died in the rebel-held northwest, according to the White Helmets, the emergency organization leading rescue operations, with more than 2,400 injured.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said 13 million of the country’s 85 million people were affected, and he declared a state of emergency in 10 provinces.

For the entire quake-hit area, that number could be as high as 23 million people, according to Adelheid Marschang, a senior emergencies officer with the World Health Organization.

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