ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 147

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Senior geologist says Israel needs to prepare for major quake ‘in our lifetime’

Amir Sagy of Geological Survey of Israel warns country is overdue for a ‘medium or major’ earthquake, adds events in Turkey and Syria need to be a warning

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)

A top scientist with the Geological Survey of Israel said Wednesday that the deadly earthquake in Turkey and Syria should serve as a wake-up call for Israel, which he predicted will experience a major quake “in our lifetime.”

Speaking to the Ynet news site, Dr. Amir Sagy said Israel needs to step up its preparedness for an earthquake.

His comments come after two devastating temblors rocked Turkey and Syria to Israel’s north, killing more than 11,000 people.

Israel experienced a minor quake on Tuesday. 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.

Sagy said it was not clear if the events were related, noting that these minor earthquakes were regular occurrences, but said it was a possibility that it was a result of the disturbances in Turkey and Syria.

“It could be that because there was a big earthquake in the northern region, the whole area is now more or less ringing with small tremors,” he said.

“I suggest that we not be specifically concerned by this earthquake in Israel, but one should always remember that we are an area that’s prone to medium and large earthquakes that will affect the State of Israel, and we should constantly prepare for earthquakes and take into account that they will happen,” said Sagy.

People remove furniture and household appliances out of a collapsed building after a devastating earthquake rocked Syria and Turkey in the town of Jinderis, Aleppo province, Syria, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. (AP/Ghaith Alsayed)

Sagy said that the Turkey quake needed to be “a general warning sign for us.”

He noted that without connection to recent events, Israel sits on the Syrian-African Rift, which is prone to quakes every 100 years, and is currently overdue for a “medium to major seismic event.”

“We have to take into account this will happen in our lifetime and prepare for it on a wide range of levels,” he said.

In the wake of the Turkey-Syria earthquake, several Israeli government offices have convened emergency meetings to reassess the country’s preparedness for a major quake.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office on Monday said the premier had directed National Security Council chairman Tzachi Hanegbi to conduct a situational assessment regarding the government’s preparedness for earthquakes. Hanegbi will soon hold a meeting on the matter with representatives from all of the relevant ministries, the PMO said.

Also on Monday, State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman urged authorities to fortify the country against a potentially devastating earthquake and pointed to the disaster in Turkey and Syria as indications of the urgency of doing so.

Englman pointed to a 2018 report from his predecessor that estimated a major earthquake could kill 7,000 people and leave 170,000 homeless. Last year, a comptroller report found there were 600,000 buildings in the country that do not meet the standard for earthquake resistance.

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