The Home Front Command launched a new campaign on Sunday aimed at informing Israeli citizens about earthquakes and earthquake preparedness.
Efi Mishov, head of the Home Front Command's Population Department, told Arutz Sheva that preparedness is the key to success, saying, “We believe that if the public prepares in advance, it will cope well with anything that may occur.”
Explaining why the issue of earthquakes is important this year, Mishov stressed, “Nothing special has happened in the past year, but the State of Israel has decided that this year will be dedicated to earthquake preparedness.”
He added, “The main message is that readiness by individuals and families can save lives. We want everyone to know what to do in an earthquake and if, G-d forbid, an earthquake happens, everyone will function effectively.”
Mishov noted that while previous instructions were that people should get under stable fixtures such as door frames and tables in case of an earthquake, this year the guidelines have changed.
“We have issued new guidelines that were set by the National Steering Committee for Earthquake Preparedness,” he said. “When an earthquake occurs, the open space is the safest place, so the first and best thing to do, is to go outside into the open. If that is not possible, then go into a shelter or a stairwell. If that is also not possible, then lie down under heavy furniture and wait for the earthquake to be over.”
Israel is located in a region that is vulnerable to the Syria-African Rift, a northern extension of Africa's Rift Valley. There have been several earthquakes which were felt in Israel in recent months but which caused no injuries or property damage.
In May, an earthquake measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale rocked Israel and was felt in areas from northern Israel to central Israel. The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake’s epicenter was in Cyprus.
In February, a 3.1 magnitude tremor shook Israel's north. There were no injuries or damage following the earthquake. The epicenter of that earthquake was east of Lake Kinneret, and a number of communities in the area reported having felt the quake.
Experts have warned that Israel is expected to be hit by a major earthquake. The last major quake in the region took place in 1927 and killed hundreds of people. Dr. Ephraim Laor, who headed the National Steering Committee for Earthquake Preparedness, told Arutz Sheva recently that each Israeli must prepare himself for a major earthquake that could hit Israel.
In February, school children around the country, from kindergarten age and up, participated in earthquake drills in their schools, practicing safe steps to take when the ground starts shaking.
Israeli officials said recently that Israel has set up a mechanism to funnel aid to the Palestinian Authority in the event of an earthquake.
In the event of a major earthquake, Israel would host a United Nations aid distribution center to receive relief from abroad, by air and the Mediterranean Sea, for both Israelis and Arabs.