Minor earthquake shakes northern Israel, latest in a series

3.1-magnitude quake reported near Beit She’an, on the border with Jordan, causing no injuries or damage

Illustrative image of the Jordan Valley, on June 14, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Illustrative image of the Jordan Valley, on June 14, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A minor 3.1-magnitude earthquake rattled northern Israel on Wednesday night, in an area that has seen a series of similar incidents in recent months.

Residents throughout the north felt the trembling, but there were no reports of injuries or damage.

Israel’s Geological Survey tracked the quake, saying it was centered 13 kilometers (8 miles) northeast of Beit She’an, on the border with Jordan, at a depth of 13 kilometers.

According to the military’s Home Front Command, the early warning system was not activated because the earthquake did not pose a danger.

The unusual number of recent tremors felt in parts of the country has led some residents to believe a larger earthquake is on the way, with the Home Front Command holding a large national earthquake drill earlier this year.

In January, a large 6.5-magnitude quake hit off the west coast of Cyprus and was felt in nearby Israel, Lebanon and Turkey.

A fish farm near the Beit She'an valley (Photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)
The Beit She’an valley. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Less than two weeks later, two small earthquakes rattled northern Israel within hours, leading to the evacuation of a school in Afula and the city hall of Beit She’an.

In early February, another quake off the coast of Cyprus was felt in Israel, in what the Cypriot geological survey department said was an aftershock of the large temblor that occurred off the east Mediterranean island the previous month.

In later February, residents of northern Israel felt two small earthquakes within a number of hours. The first registered as 3.5 magnitude with the epicenter northeast of Beit She’an. The second quake measured 3.2 magnitude on the Richter scale and had a similar epicenter.

There were no reports of injuries in any of the quakes, although some buildings developed cracks, prompting evacuations.

Another minor earthquake happened off the coast last month.

Israel lies along the Syrian-African rift, an active fault line that runs the length of the border separating Israel and Jordan. Major earthquakes in the area happen on average once every 80 years, though the last occurred over a century ago.

Geological experts have recently warned that some one million homes in Israel are at risk of collapse in an earthquake.

According to estimates, a major earthquake could cause about 7,000 deaths and 145,000 injuries, with 170,000 people left homeless and 320,000 buildings damaged.

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