The authorities and infrastructure in Israel are not prepared to deal with an earthquake – and actions are needed immediately, Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned on Tuesday.
Speaking at a National Emergency Management Authority (RAHEL) conference, Gantz said that more reports and conferences are not what Israel needs, but actions that will affect real change.
“I am not a prophet, but statistics show that in the next few years we will meet this scenario, and the window of opportunities is closing,” Gantz said.
“We don’t need more talks and warnings – we need immediate actions,” he said. “We need RAHEL to gather all the different elements. In the past few decades our readiness for earthquakes was improved, but still – in Israel today there are some 80,000 housing units in severe danger of collapsing in case of an earthquake,” he added.
“There are another 4,000 government buildings under the same risk. In a realistic scenario, we might get to thousands of deaths and tens of thousands of injuries within hours,” Gantz said.
The defense minister then compared the situation to Israel's lack of readiness ahead of and during the current pandemic.
“In these very days we pay a heavy price with people’s lives due to instability. In order to prevent a future disaster, in an earthquake or any other danger – tsunami or a chemical or cyberattack – we need to have management and political stability,” he argued.
“However, during the corona period, there were positive measures that were taken, and we can learn from them, such as strengthening the [government's] ties with local authorities," Gantz said. "But during the corona [period] we had time to learn and respond. In an event such as an earthquake, there is no time…. Hence the preparation should start now.”