Around noon today, a two to ten second long 4.1 earthquake was felt across the northern half of Israel, from Rehovot and Ashkelon to as far north as Haifa.
The earthquake’s epicenter was reported by both the Geophysical Institute and USGS to be about 20 miles west of Binyamina, in the Mediterranean Sea. Consequently, the tremor was felt by the entire coastal plain as well as the lower Galil, encompassing the Haifa, Ra’anana-Kefar Sava and Petah Tikva areas.
According to the Coastal and Northern Police Districts, there were numerous phone calls by concerned and scared individuals. Magen David Adom also repoted similar numbers of phone calls, but no injuries. According to employees in some of the taller buildings in Haifa, “The entire tower moved.” Similar reports came from residents in the Sharon, Galilee and Central areas of the country.
4.1 is considered to be a very light earthquake, almost never causes damage and occur very frequently during the year.
In April, Israel was hit by a small tremor that did not register on the Richter Scale in Israel although thousands of residents of the Galilee claimed to have felt the quake. That quake originated in Crete, Greece and registered about 5.2 on the scale in Greece.
Israel sits on the Syrian-African fault line and according to statistics is prone to having a major earthquake once every 80 years. According to Yefim Gitterman of the Geophysical Institiute, “We can say with certainty that an earthquake of a magnitude of six on the Richter scale could take place in the coming years.”
The last major earthquake to strike Israel was in 1927, when 300 people were killed in a quake that was felt as far as Jerusalem and Jericho. Before that, 4,000 were killed in 1837 in a massive 7.0 quake that hit Safed in Northern Israel as well as several other Arab villages in the area.
Earthquakes are of a major concern because of Israel’s location on a fault line, but also because Israeli could not handle the financial aftermath of such a disaster.