Dichter: Earthquake could cost Israel NIS 150b.

In economic panel, home front defense minister says earthquake and tsunami could cost thousands of Israelis their lives.

October 25, 2012 13:56
1 minute read.
Fischer, Steinitz, Dichter at economic meeting

Fischer, Steinitz, Dichter at economic officials meeting 370. (photo credit: Finance Ministry)

An earthquake and tsunami could cost Israel NIS 100 billion to NIS 150b., Home Front Defense Minister Avi Dichter said on Thursday.

Speaking at a meeting of economic officials convened as part of a five-day earthquake preparedness drill, Dichter said he was referring to a possible scenario in which thousands of Israeli would be killed.

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The IDF Home Front Command kicked off its first national earthquake drill on Sunday at 11 a.m. The command, together with all emergency services and government ministries, simulated a major earthquake causing 7,000 “casualties.”

Participants in Thursday’s meeting included Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Bank of Israel Gov. Stanley Fischer, National Economic Council Chairman Eugene Kandel, Israel Securities Authority chairman Shmuel Hauser and Tel Aviv Stock Exchange CEO Esther Levanon.

Steinitz brought attention to an agreement signed in Washington on Wednesday to extend $3.8b. in US loan guarantees to Israel to 2016. He said that the deal provides an economic anchor which will make it easier for Israel to raise funds in the event of an earthquake or other emergency scenario.

On a more negative note, the finance minister accused the Defense Ministry of being the only government ministry unprepared for an earthquake.

“We are pressuring the Defense Ministry to act like all the other ministries. That way the state will improve its recovery capacity.”

Fischer said that the Bank of Israel is working diligently to prepare for disaster. He explained that bank officials are taking into account the probability that communication would be limited, and therefore are focusing on how to keep payment systems operational.

Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.

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