“There is a significant increase in the rate of earthquakes in Israel, a dramatic increase,” Dr. Assaf Inbal, a seismologist in the Department of Geophysics at Tel Aviv University, told the Hebrew language N12 news portal.
Since the beginning of February, the region has been hit by six earthquakes that were felt mainly in the north of the country but also in heavily-populated center of Israel. The last one occurred yesterday (Wednesday) about 81 kilometers northwest of the Nahariya coast, with a magnitude of 4.5 on the Richter Scale.
No significant damage was recorded and there were no casualties in Israel. But experts agree that it is only a matter of time before a strong earthquake shakes the area. They also agree that we are not prepared well enough.
“It’s only a matter of time until a strong earthquake arrives that could cause us huge damage,” warns Eran Rolls, chairman of the Israel Construction Center. “The housing committees, especially of the housing estates, must urgently, as early as today, organize themselves, hurry up and urgently enter tenders for urban renewal. There is a clear and immediate danger here and the writing is already on the wall. The solution is renewal projects. The demolition of old and dilapidated buildings and the construction of new structures in compliance with strict standards that allow the entire building to stand during an earthquake. We may find tens of thousands of people buried under the ruins of apartment blocs and there will be many deaths here.”
Chairman of the Local Government Center Haim Bibbs said at the Interior and Environment Committee held last week: “If you want to bring about a real solution, the Israeli government needs to transfer billions. Otherwise, it won’t work. The periphery will not be able to protect their residents without budgets from the government to strengthen buildings. Today there are about 800,000 housing units that are in danger. Without a budget of billions, we will not be able to take care of old buildings in case of earthquakes or missile attacks.”
The Local Government Center is demanding, among other things, budgeting from the state to strengthen educational institutions in the periphery that are at risk of earthquakes, and funding for an urban renewal project in localities in the area of the Syrian-African rift. So far it does not seem that the Treasury will agree to the demands.
Guy Donnenfeld, CEO of the Union of Engineers and Architects of the Cities, agrees and adds: “One of the demands of the Local Government Center is the immediate treatment by the state, with state funding, of old buildings built before 1980 that are in danger of collapsing in the event of earthquakes, mainly in the municipalities located along the Syrian-Africa fault line. The state must prepare for this urgently. Any delay could cost lives.”
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