A serious earthquake in Israel could result in 7,000 people killed, tens of thousands injured and more than 200,000 homes destroyed, Homefront Defense Minister Gilad Erdan told the Knesset on Wednesday.
Israel is set to host a group of delegations, including a U.N. team, in the coming months for an emergency drill simulating a serious earthquake and the requirement of rapid deployment of international aid.
Erdan called the government incentive for contractors to reinforce apartment buildings, known as the Tama 38 plan, "the least socially minded plan drafted in recent years," saying it does not compel them to strengthen buildings in the higher-risk areas near the Africa-Syria fault line, on the Israel-Jordan border.
The Tama 38 plan allows developers and residential housing committees to add an additional two and a half floors to a building, which they can then sell, while reinforcing the structure's foundations to better withstand earthquakes.
The government spends 130 million shekels ($37 million) annually fortifying buildings for possible earthquakes, Erdan said. He noted that the Defense Ministry and Homefront Defense Ministry had yet to complete assigning responsibilities in case of a national emergency.
Israel Radio quoted Erdan as saying that 19 earth tremors have occurred since last week, mostly in northern Israel. The southern city of Eilat registered a 3.3 magnitude earthquake on Wednesday, with the center of the tremor under the Egyptian border city of Taba. No damage or injuries were reported.