Expert: Israeli Towns Could Face Same Earthquake Damage as Amatrice

YERUSHALAYIM - Like Italy, Israel’s ancient cities, including Yerushalayim and Tzfas, have structures that are hundreds of years old or even older – structures that were built long before the term “earthquake-proof” was even conceived. And like Italy, Israel sits squarely on an area with much tectonic activity, and is at risk for a major earthquake.

So a catastrophe like the one that struck Amatrice early Wednesday – in which hundreds of people were killed and hundreds were caught in the rubble of demolished buildings – is all too possible, according to Eran Siv, head of the Home Repair Professionals’ Organization. Speaking on Israel Radio, Siv said that an Amatrice-style earthquake “could bring much damage to Israel, where there are many ancient structures.”

Geologists said that the earthquake originated in the area of Amatrice, which accounted for the major destruction in the town, where most of the buildings were toppled at least partially. To prevent such a situation from happening in Israel, buildings need to be reinforced in order to withstand the shock of earthquakes.

Even buildings that survived intact are not what they had been, said Siv. The fact that they did not collapse does not mean that they did not suffer structural damage, and home repair professionals need to carefully check for such structural damage when they paint and repair walls and the like, he said.

A statement from the office of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said he has offered rescue assistance to his Italian counterpart Matteo Renzi. The statement says he sends his condolences to the people of Italy.

Italy and Israel are close allies. Israel often offers and sends rescue assistance to countries that have experienced temblors.