Experts: Major earthquake expected soon in Israel

In the last few weeks, several earthquakes and 30 tremors have rattled northern Israel — with four on Sunday alone — prompting concerns that a major earthquake could occur here in the near future.

The epicenter of the tremors is close to Tiberias, the city that lies on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. One of the quakes last week reached 4.3 on the Richter scale.

“Three earthquakes have been felt over the last week but actually over 30 tremors have been registered by seismic devices,” Uri Frieslander, former general manager of the Geophysical Institute said last week. “Most of them could not have been felt so no one talks about them. It’s hard to predict what will happen following the earthquake that took place on Wednesday, but the concentration of tremors in the Sea of Galilee proves that there is renewed activity along the split where African and Arabian plates meet.”

The rumblings have prompted emergency preparedness experts to warn the public to become familiar with safety precautions and to make provisions for an emergency. 

“In Israel we don’t have experience with strong earthquakes so it’s difficult to imagine how it would look and what would happen,” according to Carmit Rapaport of the University of Haifa’s Academic Center of the Program for Coping with Emergency Situations.

These minor earthquakes and tremors caused damage to some structures including a school. The students will learn in a temporary building next year while the school looks for or builds a new building.

Retired Col. Gili Shenhar warned residents against complacency that comes from feeling low grade tremors that cause little to no damage.

“In our area earthquakes happen. The last major earthquake struck in 1927, and the one before was in 1836, so we understand that every 100 years a serious earthquake strikes,” he said. 

“A 5.0 magnitude earthquake is 30 times stronger than a 4.0 magnitude tremor. People need to understand the difference in the multiplication. A 6.0 or a 7.0 earthquake might lead to the collapse of buildings and infrastructure,” he added. “An earthquake is an unexpected event, therefore we need to prepare for it beforehand.”