The IDF Home Front Command will start its first national earthquake drill on
Sunday. The command, together with all emergency services and government
ministries, will simulate a major earthquake causing 7,000
“This is an opportunity for the general public and local
authorities to prepare for emergencies which could catch us by surprise,” a Home
Front Command source said this week.
On Sunday, at 11 a.m. and at 7 p.m.,
the Home Front Command will take over TV and radio broadcasts, and send out text
message alerts issuing instructions on what to do during an
The advice to civilians is to try and get
Those who can get out within seconds should do so, whereas those
who cannot should enter a reinforced safe zone in their building if they have
one. Those who can do neither should head to the stairwell or hide under heavy
Israel sits on the active Syrian-African fault line, and
geologists have warned that the region is due for a major earthquake. The Home
Front Command says smaller fault lines in Israel could also cause
Buildings constructed after 1980 have been designed to withstand
quakes, but those built before are highly vulnerable. The Home Front Command has
called for the older buildings to be fortified, and the government has offered a
free program to the public to reinforce residential buildings against the threat
of an earthquake.
A rocket-proof safe zone is also a useful hiding spot
during earthquakes if one cannot get out of a building in time, the Home Front Command says.
In any real earthquake, the Israel Police would have
initial command of the situation, but if wide-scale destruction occurs, the Home
Front Command would take charge.
Emergency responders have not been told
of the specifics of next week’s drill, and are expected to react to unknown
factors as the exercise develops.
“We have to create an awareness among
the public,” the source said. “The threat of an earthquake is more complex than
that of missiles.”
“With missiles, we know where they land
immediately. We may not know the initial locations of all the damage in
an earthquake,” the source added.
“Like our missile awareness campaign,
the point is to tell families to be prepared ahead of time,” the source
The first few hours after an earthquake are the most critical, when
emergency responders must put together an evaluation of the damage across the
If communications break down, the Home Front Command plans to
drop leaflets across affected areas from the air.
Emergency planners have
also taken into account the threat of enemy missile fire following an
“If I could choose between the scenario of an earthquake and
the scenario of a missile attack on Israel, I’d choose the second, because of
the scope of damage [that an earthquake would cause], and [because of] our
deterrence abilities,” Home Front Defense Minister Avi Dichter said last week.