Israeli soldiers from the Home Front Command stand on rubble as they take part in an earthquake drill in Holon, near Tel Aviv October 21, 2012.
(photo credit: REUTERS/NIR ELIAS)
There are 80,000 buildings in Israel that are in danger of collapsing in the face of a serious earthquake in Israel, Deputy Minister of Housing and Construction Jackie Levy told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
Levy issued a statement on the urgency of the issue, after northern Israel experienced dozens of earthquakes over the past few days.
Levy says he has been fighting for greater action on this issue for several years, and that while his ministry had budgeted NIS 60 million every year for the last three years to reinforce buildings, that is only “a drop in the ocean.”
“This needs a massive systemic solution – a national plan,” he said, noting that his ministry has already put together a five-year plan which he hopes will be approved soon.
Israeli inventors create an earthquake-proof desk designed to save lives (Reuters)
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The plan, which his ministry put together with the Finance Ministry, requires a budget of NIS 250 million every year for five years – which will deal only with the homes of those who live on the Great Rift Valley, the highest risk zone.
In addition, the remaining homes of those who are in lower-risk areas will also need to be reinforced.
All buildings constructed before 1984 were not built according to standards which began to be enforced that year for earthquake durability.
“There are many old structures that will simply collapse like a tower of cards during an earthquake,” Levy said.
“On every platform, I have demanded that the Israeli government open its eyes and internalize that this earthquake is a ticking time bomb, and it must invest considerable resources in order to prevent the disaster.”
“The government must stop trembling from the large expenditure and ascend one step after another on the budget ladder, because the quakes are going up the Richter scale at a dizzying pace,” Levy stated.
Levy believes that the current series of earthquakes will spur decision makers into action. “Everyone agrees [that a big earthquake] will come, and it is only a matter of when,” Levy warned. “This is Israel’s biggest security threat. And so I call on everyone to understand that we cannot wait.
An earthquake will not come with a government resolution, it will surprise everyone – and for this barrel of explosives, we are not prepared.”
He added that rather than getting to a situation where the country remembers a huge failure, “we must start to deal with it today in order to prevent the suffering of tomorrow.”
The Defense Ministry, along with the security establishment and the National Emergency Authority, is set to hold an emergency meeting on Thursday to discuss this issue.
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