When the earth shakes

 When the Earth Shakes

It wasn’t enough for us to have the “crown”, so the earth is shaking! However, nothing bad happened. Just a little over three points, furniture on the floor in kiosks in the North, a few calls from overly nervous citizens. Is it possible to compare these little things with quarantine, tests, “green passport”, “purple standard”, “red countries”? and other joys of the pandemic, with which Israel and the whole world have been living for two years…

True, scientists have long been warning that in our country tremors with a force of seven points can lead to the death of thousands of people, the evacuation of more than a hundred thousand and the destruction of a huge number of buildings. The amount of material damage will be from 50 to 100 thousand dollars. Serious damage will be done to the national infrastructure, hospitals will not be able to take all the wounded. In general, this catastrophe will hit Israel much stronger than any war, including an armed clash with Iran, and may lead to complete chaos and the collapse of the state…

The danger of such a cataclysm always exists in Israel, since we are on the border of the Afro-Asian fault. On average, a large-scale earthquake in our region occurs once every hundred years. The last time this happened was in 1927, when cities such as Jerusalem, Jericho, Ramla, Tiberias, and Shechem were seriously affected. The current weak shocks – a reminder of the reality of this risk.

Experts talk about this all the time, but so far no government has paid this problem and a hundredth of the attention that has fallen to covid. What's up – the seasonal increase in the price of vegetables causes much more resonance in the media and society than the terrible, but hypothetical prospect of an earthquake.

In 2005, the TAMA-38 program was approved, ordering to strengthen all buildings above two floors built before 1980, and to build new ones to modern standards. But in fact, the issue of strengthening the building was left to the discretion of the municipalities and local cablans. The decision taken in 2013 to strengthen residential buildings built before 1980 at public expense was quietly canceled three years later, despite the protests of specialists. Of the two billion shekels needed to strengthen the houses, about 70 million were allocated at one time, and no one returned to this issue.

Nothing else was to be expected. Seismologists can tear their clothes like biblical prophets, but Israel will never deal with a threat that does not stand close to it or does not have such an influential lobby as, for example, the defense sphere. We have too many pressing issues and too few resources to cover everything at once. The people and the government live for today, so we will always be taken by surprise by snow, rain, flood, intifada, missiles, war, virus… Yes, we know that all this can happen, but why think about the bad? Why (these are the arguments of the authorities) to spend money on a theoretical danger? The budget allocated for the future earthquake will not bring new votes in the elections. And if trouble does not happen soon, we will be accused of wasting money…

That is why no one listened to scientists who warned about the possibility of a global pandemic long before covid. In the same way, their colleagues are not listening now, demanding to prepare for a devastating earthquake.

But that's not all. If a catastrophe, God forbid, breaks out, its victims will be, first of all, representatives of the poor. Those who live in old buildings built fifty and forty years ago without taking into account the seismological situation. Who did not have enough money to strengthen their homes. Who semi-legally and simply illegally attached balconies and terraces to their apartments to accommodate a growing family, – these flimsy additions will collapse first. In short, if you can afford expensive housing that meets seismological standards, you are much more likely to stay alive and even keep your property intact. And if you are an inhabitant of one of the poor quarters where houses crumble on their own, you can only pray. If you live in Japan, where the state is responsible for the seismological stability of housing, everything would be different. But you live in Israel. Here, the state allows its citizens to prepare for natural disasters themselves.

Scientists assure that it is not the earthquake itself that kills people, but panic and unpreparedness. In our case, people will be killed by inequality. Do they know about it “at the top”? Of course they do. But the protection of the population from earthquakes, as well as from any future threat, is not in the sphere of primary interests of the authorities, since you will not earn political capital on it. Yes, if the predictions of seismologists about destruction and casualties come true, the earth will also tremble under political leadership, albeit in a figurative sense. But every government hopes that this will not happen to them, but after – even an earthquake, even a flood.

Author//: Ira Kogan

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