A five-day national earthquake preparedness drill, codenamed Turning Point 6, was conducted in Israel earlier this week – and the post-drill conclusions were not reassuring to the country’s citizens.
The cause of this consternation that could cost thousands of Israeli lives in the aftermath of a major earthquake is the stifling Israeli government bureaucracy and a lack of coordination between the IDF, police and emergency services. The drill exposed several fault lines among other various government and security agencies that have been charged with saving lives and keeping the country functioning in the hours and days following a major natural disaster.
Israel sits directly along the Syrian-African rift, a natural geological anomaly that sparks minor earthquakes on a regular basis across major portions of the Middle East. Scientists say that a major earthquake is expected to hit Israel at least once every 100 years. It is feared that a quake exceeding 6.0 on the Richter scale would cause major damage and kill or maim many people.
Israel’s Channel 10 News reported that the aforementioned coordination gap between the relevant state institutions has been acknowledged by military and government sources. To compensate for these shortcomings, it is believed that the highly praised IDF Home Front Command earthquake unit would need to rely on significant assistance from other Western nations in order to deal with a large-scale natural disaster.
An IDF Home Front Command report has estimated that a major earthquake would cause thousands of deaths and injuries to citizens residing within the metropolitan Tel Aviv region due to the poorly constructed apartment buildings erected prior to 1990. After Iraqi missiles damaged old buildings in that area during the 1990-91 First Gulf War, Israel’s government began requiring construction companies to use special earthquake proof materials in newly built apartment buildings and private home structures.
Israeli scientists have also said that a major earthquake could spark a Mediterranean tsunami wave that would hit portions of the Tel Aviv, Netanya and Haifa coastlines. This would cause the luxury apartment buildings and hotels that are located near the beaches to either collapse or suffer severe water damage.
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