All Israelis to be trained how to act in an earthquake
Every Israeli citizen will undergo a 24-hour training program on how to behave in case of an earthquake, according to a plan drawn up by the steering committee examining the country's preparedness for quakes.
Dr. Ephraim Laor, who heads the committee, told the Knesset's Interior Committee that the government will give its backing to a nationwide program run by voluntary organizations. The education system will instruct teachers and pupils how to act, the Israel Defense Forces and the police will instruct their officers, soldiers and policemen, the government ministries will hold training programs for their employees and the universities will prepare lecturers and students for such an event, he said.
There are some 380,000 apartment buildings in different parts of the country that would be endangered by a stronger quake than that of last week, Laor said. The government has already decided to strengthen 100 facilities that could cause major damage, he said.
As a first step, citizens will receive an instruction booklet on how to behave during an earthquake. It will be sent together with the next electricity bill. Laor said the booklets are already printed but have been lying around in storerooms instead of being distributed. According to Laor's predecessor, Yaakov Heichal, the prime minister ordered the 1.5 million booklets to be stashed away.
One of the buildings that poses a problem, Laor told the committee, is the Galei Kinneret Hotel on the shores of Lake Kinneret. The hotel had been refurbished and resumed operating, he said. Hotel manager Hemda Hoffman, who also attended the meeting, said the hotel was built in 1944 and that there had always been claims that it was located on the Afro-Syrian fault line. "This is the problem not only of our hotel but of all the hotels that were built on the shores of the lake in Tiberias," she said. Hoffman said that engineers of the Tiberias municipality had examined the site and approved the hotel's operation.
Committee chair Yuri Stern (National Union) called for a survey of all existing structures so as to locate those requiring reinforcement. Construction Minister Effi Eitam warned that the government would not pay for reinforcing private buildings.
According to Shinui MK Melli Polishuk-Bloch, telecommunication connections were the first to collapse during last week's quake. This, she said, was a warning about what would happen if there were stronger tremors.