An inter-office governmental committee reviewing seismographic assessments by the Geophysical Institute of Israel (GII) concluded recently that a large earthquake might hit northern Israel in the near future.
Following the report, Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Avi Yisraeli ordered hospitals in the north to implement the necessary procedures in order to be able to handle a mass casualty event.
In a letter sent to the northern medical facilities on Monday, Prof. Yisraeli wrote, "Since mid February 2008, abnormal seismic activity has been noted in southern Lebanon, which had suffered some 500 minor earthquakes measuring a little over magnitude-2 on the Richter Scale, in a three-month period.
"Over the month of May, the tremors have become more intense and were felt in northern Israel as well. Data revealed by the Geophysical Institute of Israel have shown the probability of a massive earthquake – to the magnitude of up to 6 on the Richter Scale – originating in Lebanon and being felt in Israel, has become higher.
"The inter-office governmental committee believes that should an earthquake of such magnitude hit northern Israel it may cause substantial infrastructural damage in the area."
In view of the assessments, added Prof. Yisraeli, "All medical facilities and organizations must do everything they can to enhance the level of readiness; in order to minimize the damages caused by such an event and provide those in need with the best medical care possible."
The letter concluded with Prof. Yisraeli ordering all medical facilities in northern Israel to complete all the logistical updates they deem necessary, as soon as they can.
A series of mild tremors, ranging between 3.3 and 3.9 in magnitude, were felt in northern Israel in mid June, causing no injuries or damage. The quake was traced back to Lebanon
GII Director Rami Hofstetter told Ynet that "although such earthquakes are considered low-to-medium in intensity, they are still powerful enough to be felt throughout the northern communities adjacent to the Lebanese border."