Israel's State Comptroller’s Office issued a scathing report on Tuesday noting most Israeli cities are not properly prepared for a potential major earthquake.
The report states that Israel is at significant risk of a major earthquake, which is predicted to occur within the next 50 years due to movement of the Syrian-African Rift. Cities to be the most affected include Beit Shean, Hatzor HaGlilit, Kiryat Shmonah, Safed, and Tiberias.
Dr. Ittai Kurzon, a seismologist with the Israeli Geological Society, said the country would need to invest $10 billion just to reinforce buildings and infrastructure built before 1980.
Yet, 93% of the buildings most at risk have yet to be sufficiently fortified, according to the report.
State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman framed Israel’s lack of earthquake preparedness in dire terms, saying the recent devastating earthquake in Turkey should serve as a warning.
Englman said that “the reminder we received from the earthquake in Turkey should shake the foundations of the government,” and that the lack of building fortifications in many Israeli cities “should deprive the prime minister and government ministers of sleep.”
The report stated that of the cities most likely to be affected by such an earthquake, Beit Shean and Hatzor HaGlilit were least prepared.
Responding to the report, the Beit Shean municipality said it had long been aware of the issue, but lacked sufficient funding.
“The Municipality of Beit Shean has been working in recent years to improve its preparedness for earthquakes,” it said, but stressed that “the only solution that exists is an immediate government budget to strengthen buildings in the cities that are at risk.”
This week, Israel's Defense Ministry's National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) is leading an international exercise which includes some 120 participants from 17 countries.
The exercise simulates all necessary emergency procedures in the event of an earthquake, including the decision to request international assistance, the integration of foreign rescue teams and the distribution of aid to various locations within the country.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.