1500 Schools High Earthquake Danger, 2 Evacuated

1500 schools around the country found to be in high earthquake danger, while 2 in Tzfat (Safed) to be evacuated and rebuilt.

Ari Yashar,

Earthquake preparedness drill
Earthquake preparedness drill
Israel news photo: Flash 90

As a result of an examination conducted by earthquake specialists, 1500 Israeli schools throughout the country have been defined as being in high earthquake danger. It was also decided that 2 Tzfat (Safed) schools were to be evacuated immediately and rebuilt.

The findings were announced Monday by Dr. Avi Shapira, head of the National Steering Committee for Earthquake Preparedness.  His announcement came during a hearing held by the Sub-Committee for Emergency Preparedness of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, which was held following the recent spate of minor earthquake tremors felt in Israel over the past two weeks.

Dr. Shapira went on to say "we know without a doubt that an earthquake and tsunami will occur in Israel, the question is only when it will occur."  

Complicating this impending danger is the fact that there are 100,000 buildings in Israel that do not meet the updated standards for earthquakes.  In response to this situation, plans to strengthen the buildings are included in National Outline Plan 38.

"Last week when an 6.4 richter scale earthquake occurred in the Cyprus area," commented Home Front Defense Ministry Director General Dan Ronen, "we were given warning about the possibility of a tsunami on the Mediterranean coast, but in practice there doesn't exist a center in Israel today that is experienced in the deployment and management of an earthquake or tsunami crisis."

The lack of an organized government body to deal with such a crisis is compounded by the numerous local authorities, each charged with deploying in its own sphere. This danger was brought up by Eliezer Rosenbaum, Deputy Director of the Ministry of Public Security, who said "while the responsibility for actually managing earthquakes lies in our office, the required deployment for events of this type is carried out by the different authorities, such that in practice I'm not sure that we'll be able to respond to something whose deployment is not in our responsibility."