Israel prepares for large-scale earthquake

Israeli security forces and emergency rescue volunteers participated in a successful drill simulating a violent earthquake.

An extreme earthquake simulation drill conducted earlier this week included the participation of Zaka, an Israeli search and rescue emergency service; the National Emergency Authority; the Israel Police; the IDF Home Front Command; Magen David Adom, Israel’s national emergency service, and others.

At the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the preparations.

“As part of our efforts and actions to improve home front emergency preparedness, we are beginning today a national earthquake exercise, called ‘Earthquake 2017’. So first of all, I hope there will not be an earthquake in 2017. There are enough earthquakes around us in all senses of the word, but we live adjacent to the Syrian-African rift, and an earthquake can hit at any moment. They already have and they undoubtedly will. The more prepared we are, the better we will be able to deal with such an incident and thus reduce harm to life and property.

“I ask the public to follow the exercise instructions,” he continued.” If I had to summarize the approach in the case of an earthquake, in contrast to other scenarios that threaten the home front, the basic rule is: Get out of the houses, get out of the buildings. The safest place is open space.”

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Describing the drill scenario, Roi Solomon, head of the ZAKA simulation team in the Sharon area, explained: “A very powerful earthquake took place this morning, causing a tsunami at Poleg Beach in Netanya. During a search for casualties, we located dozens of bodies on or near the beach. After evacuating the bodies and all human remains from the tsunami area with the help of 4×4 vehicles, the ZAKA volunteers began the process of identification.”

At the same time, a second large-scale exercise was happening at Moshav Beit Hazayit, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, with the participation of hundreds of security and emergency personnel. The drill simulated earthquake damage in the Kiryat Yovel neighborhood in the capital, where many residential buildings collapsed. The source of the earthquake, which measured 7.1 on the Richter scale, was in the Dead Sea area.

“The volunteers worked on the exercise that simulated hundreds of people injured and dozens of civilians killed. The security personnel arrived first at the scene”, said ZAKA Jerusalem Commander Bentzi Oering, recounting the simulated setting. “We arrived at the scene together with the IDF Home Front Command and rescued people and bodies from the rubble. ZAKA volunteers also helped in forensic identification of the bodies.”

During the day, dozens of residential buildings collapsed, electricity supplies were cut off and the main water pipes were destroyed,” he continued. “There are thousands of people homeless in Jerusalem, Ma’ale Adumim, Mevasseret Zion and Ariel,”

ZAKA commander of special operations Haim Weingarten praised the cooperation of the various emergency and security services: “Everyone spoke the same language – it was really remarkable and it would appear that, should an earthquake happen, God forbid, we will be prepared for the goals we have set ourselves in ZAKA, to save those who can be saved and honor those who cannot.”

By: World Israel News Staff