Recent Tremors Raise Fears of Potentially Destructive Earthquake

5.3-magnitude tremor jolts Israel, Lebanon, Syria; Quake shakes open large hole on Temple Mount plaza.

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The National Infrastructures Ministry said in a statement following Friday's 5.3-magnitude earthquake that the most recent tremors have increased fears about the possibility of a destructive earthquake taking place here.

The earthquake shook Israel early Friday afternoon and was felt mostly in the Coastal Plain. A 4.1-magnitude earthquake was felt earlier this week in parts of Israel.

Magen David Adom emergency medical services said that no injuries were reported.

Friday's earthquake shook open a large hole on the Temple Mount plaza, near the Dome of the Rock.

Al-Aqsa mosque officials belonging to the Islamic Movement's Northern Branch covered the hole with wooden planks following afternoon prayers.

The officials, who also said the quake caused cracks in several local residential buildings, said the hole was a meter deep, two meters long and meter and a half wide.

The Islamic Movement blamed Israel for the hole, saying Israel is digging tunnels in the area that undermine the stability in the area of the Al-Aqsa mosque. The organization urged Islamic states to take action to stop Israeli excavations in the area.

Epicenter northeast of Lebanese city of TyreA Tel Aviv resident, living on the second floor, said: "We felt the earth move. The bed was rocking, the doors were moving, and the chandeliers were swinging."

In the West Bank, An old house fell onto the main road in Kofin village west of Nablus, blocking it but not hurting anyone.

The earthquake also shook Lebanon and Syria.

Residents in some areas of Beirut left their apartments and went into the street after the first jolt shortly after midday, which lasted a few seconds.

Five people were lightly injured in southern Lebanon, according to police.

Residents of Damascus, the Syrian capital about a 2-hour drive away, reported feeling the quake as well.

The quake's epicenter was 15 kilometers northeast of the southern Lebanese city of Tyre.

Local television stations reported the main force of the quake hit southern Lebanon where it damaged houses in two villages.

Two small quakes shook Lebanon on Thursday night, according to the local media.

Earlier this month, the education ministry reported that 45 percent of the schools and the kindergartens in Israel would face serious danger in the case of a strong earthquake.

During the Knesset discussion on earthquake precautions held in January, a representative of Israel's fire department said that in the case of a serious earthquake, only 29 firefighters would be available in Jerusalem to handle a situation in which, according to forecasts, hundreds of houses will collapse and thousands will be killed.

A 2005 forecast maintains that if an earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richter Scale were to hit Beit She'an, 16,000 people would be killed, 90,000 people would be hurt and 400,000 would become homeless. 130,000 buildings will collapse or suffer extensive damage.