The major earthquake that hit the Iran-Iraq border had a wide range – with thousands of Israelis reporting that they felt it as well. Police and rescue services were inundated with phone calls from people who felt buildings sway, with several reporting dizziness or other symptoms. Officials estimated the effect of the earthquake in Israel as measuring above 4 on the Richter scale. With that, no injuries or damage were reported, although in some places people reported seeing lights swing and light furniture move.
Most of the reports were from residents of the coast and of the Tel Aviv area, as far east as Hod Hasharon. Geologists said that the tremor in Israel, which occurred at 8:12 p.m. (local time) – minutes after the earthquake hit Iran and Iraq – was clearly related to that incident, and was not a separate earthquake. With that, residents of communities in the hills of Yehudah and Shomron, as well as residents of the Yerushalayim area, did not report feeling the earthquake.
In a statement, Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz said, “My condolences to the people of Iran and Iraq over the loss of human life caused by the earthquake.”
Israel in recent years has sustained numerous small earthquakes, but the potential for a “big one” definitely exists, as Israel sits squarely on the Syria-Africa Rift, also known as the Great Rift Valley. An earthquake centered in Tzfas in 1837, according to geologists, hit at least 6.5 on the Richter scale, who evaluated the earthquake based on reported destruction resulting from the event. Thousands were killed in that earthquake, which was felt as far north as Beirut. Tzfas was almost completely destroyed, and there was substantial damage in Teveria and in Arab villages in the Galilee.
Another large earthquake centered around Jericho took place in 1927, destroying hundreds of structures and killing at least 300.
Israel has invested a great deal of money in recent years upgrading apartments, offices, and factories to be able to withstand earthquakes. The Tama 38 program, specifically designed to upgrade older buildings to meet modern earthquake conditions, has provided hundreds of millions of dollars of funding for the upgrade of thousands of buildings around the country.