UPDATE 4:20 P.M. ET – Another earthquake, measuring 4.3 on the Richter scale, struck the Dead Sea region of Northern Israel. This is the fifth earthquake that has struck Northern Israel in the past 24 hours.
Our original story, regarding the first four earthquakes, appears below.
Israel was struck with four earthquakes early Wednesday, two of them occurring just before 5:00 a.m, and the other two an hour later. The epicenter of all three quakes was in the Kinneret.
The two earlier quakes measured 4.2 and 3.2 on the Richter scale, and were felt by residents of much of northern Israel. Residents of Teveria and the other towns and cities near the northern Kinneret reported that their houses shook, and in some cases items fell off tables. No injuries or substantial damage was reported. At 6:50 a.m, a third quake, measuring 2.1 on the Richter scale, was recorded, followed by a stronger one, measuring 3.8. No injuries or damage were reported in those quakes either.
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, based on evaluations of reports of the 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 Yericho 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.