Education Minister Gideon Saar at Har Bracha
Education Minister Gideon Saar at Har BrachaIsrael news photo: Yoni Kempinski

Like Californians, Israelis have been repeatedly warned to prepare for “the Big One,” an earthquake that will rip open the Syria-Africa rift upon which Israel sits, and which scientists says is just a matter of time. On Monday, 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.

Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar spent the day with high school kids at the Kiryar Herzog Yeshiva High School in Bnei Brak, to view the preparedness drill there. During the drill, Sa'ar said that the occurrence of the drill was “an important event, with all schools practicing their preparedness for earthquakes together. We hope we will never have to face an event like this, but that of course is not up to us.”

What is up to Israelis, Sa'ar said, was their level of readiness to deal with earthquakes and their aftermath. “The drill is important from the perspective of raising the awareness of students for the possibility of an earthquake. The more drills we conduct the better prepared we will be,” Sa'ar said, adding that “these kinds of drill may eventually save lives.”

In addition to training students to prepare to deal with earthquakes, the drill also gave local authorities the opportunity to ensure that their services were available for schools in the event of an earthquake. Participating in the drills were local fire departments, rescue workers, and police, who worked with teaching staff to ensure smooth cooperation on behalf of students. The drills were sponsored by the Education Ministry and Home Front Command, and was conducted as part of an ongoing series of drills designed to deal with emergency situations.