“Powerful earthquake in Israel with thousands of deaths will occur – the only question is when”

Is Israel prepared for an event that occurs roughly every hundred years?

The prospect of a devastating earthquake hitting Israel has been a source of concern for its residents and those in the surrounding region, following the powerful earthquake that slammed Turkey and Syria.

With historical records indicating that a major earthquake occurs once every hundred years, many are wondering if we are due for another seismic event. The possibility of such a disaster has left many feeling anxious and uncertain about the future.
Speaking with DR. Ariel Heiman an INSS senior researcher. a geologist who previously served as a senior researcher at the Geological Survey of Israel said: “We know earthquakes happened and will happen along the Dead Sea rift. where exactly and when? We don’t really know.”
It has been nearly a century since Israel last experienced a deadly earthquake, which claimed hundreds of lives in 1927. Given that history shows such catastrophic tremors tend to occur once every hundred years, many citizens are growing increasingly anxious about the possibility of another one striking in the near future.

A building destroyed by the Kahramanmaras earthquake in Turkey

Is it accurate that a major earthquake will occur once every 100 years?
Dr. Heiman answered: “It would be inaccurate to assume that a major earthquake occurs precisely every 100 years. While there was a significant earthquake in the Dead Sea rift in 1995, which occurred around 100km south of Eilat, and another one recently in Turkey, it is uncertain if this means that another earthquake won’t occur for the next 100 years. The exact timing and location of future earthquakes are impossible to predict with complete accuracy.”

Is Israel prepared for an earthquake that size, similar to the one that struck Turkey?
“Israel is not adequately prepared for a major earthquake, although it is in a better situation than Turkey. Israel has building standards in place since 1980, and if contractors follow these standards and don’t cheat, buildings should withstand a significant earthquake. However, there is still a high risk of thousands of fatalities if a strong earthquake strikes, and Israel’s level of preparedness is not sufficient to cope with such a disaster.”

So, you think an earthquake will happen and we don’t really know when it will happen?
Undoubtedly, it’s bound to happen. I have been saying for many years that a powerful earthquake in Israel is not a matter of if, but a matter of when.

How to be prepared for an earthquake?
First of all, it is crucial for each household to make necessary preparations. The Home Front Command website provides a comprehensive guide that lists essential items such as water, long-lasting food, and a transistor. Furthermore, it is imperative to secure furniture and cabinets to the walls to prevent any potential hazards. Families can take several precautionary measures to brace themselves for an earthquake. Secondly, families must comprehend that they will be on their own as the aftermath of an earthquake can be catastrophic, and rescue forces may not be able to assist everyone in need. It is vital for people to realize that they must be self-sufficient and take responsibility for their safety.

Do the recent mild earthquakes in Israel and nearby areas indicate an impending major earthquake, and can smaller earthquakes serve as a warning sign for a larger earthquake?
Undoubtedly, there is a connection between the recent mild earthquakes, but it’s premature to assume they are precursors. Typically, the most severe earthquake occurs first, and if there were smaller ones before it, we could have taken measures to prepare. Following a significant earthquake, there will be aftershocks for several weeks or even months, which is likely what we are experiencing in the region.

Is it possible for significant earthquakes to happen in close succession, or is there always a considerable time gap between them in the same area?
Without a doubt, it is possible for significant earthquakes to occur in succession. For instance, Turkey experienced a powerful earthquake near Istanbul in 1999, followed by another earthquake of similar magnitude or even larger in the Izmit region four months later. The occurrence of an earthquake does not rule out the possibility of another one happening. Regrettably, scientists do not possess enough knowledge to forecast when, where, and how severe an earthquake will be. At present, we lack the scientific capacity to make such predictions.

Is there a correlation between earthquakes and tsunamis, and do residents of cities such as Haifa and Acre, located near the sea, face potential risks?
There is a possibility of a tsunami occurring in Israel, although it’s unlikely to be significant. Tsunamis are not what really concerns me. now the seismic activity in the sea, can generate a powerful wave that crashes onto the shore, leading to the creation of a tsunami.

As we conclude our discussion, could you provide guidance to individuals on what initial action to take when experiencing an earthquake?
Running outside is the best course of action if you’re situated on the ground floor or up to the second floor of a house. However, if you’re on the top floor and unable to run outside, seek shelter behind a dimension or shield if available. In Israel, where most houses lack such protection, head towards a stairwell for safety. If that’s not possible, taking cover under a table is recommended. While it may not provide protection in the event of a complete house collapse, it can protect against falling objects, such as a cupboard, during a severe tremor.

Is it advisable to prioritise taking care of others at home or evacuate alone?
Take your children and run outside, there is nothing more precious than children, hold them by the hand, by the ear in any possible way, and depending on how small they are, and if they are big, shout at them, come after me and run outside. What kills in an earthquake is not the earthquake itself, it is the houses that fall as a result of the shaking. And if you are outside, nothing will happen to you.

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