New minor earthquake felt around the Sea of Galilee

A minor earthquake was felt in northern Israel Saturday morning, in a week of several such tremors.

The 5 a.m. temblor, measuring 3.4 on the Richter scale, had its epicenter several kilometers northwest of the Sea of Galilee.

The quake was felt in cities of the area. There were no reports of damage or casualties.

The first quake this week, which took place early Wednesday morning in the northern Galilee area, measured 4.3 on the Richter scale. It was felt in the Haifa region and northern Israel and was followed by several aftershocks.

Thursday brought a temblor weaker than the preceding ones, measuring between 3.1 and 3.2 on the Richter scale. Its epicenter was near Tiberias.

Israel is situated along the Syrian-African rift, a tear in the earth’s crust running the length of the border separating Israel and Jordan, and is part of the Great Rift Valley, which extends from northern Syria to Mozambique.

Northern Israel and areas around Jerusalem and the Dead Sea are high risk of a quake measuring five to 5.9 on the Richter scale, according to the World Health Organization, with the central and southern coastal areas and the Negev Desert at medium risk of a quake in the 4 to 4.9 range.

Experts have warned a large earthquake could strike Israel in the near future, and the government has begun funding projects for public buildings to be bolstered against tremors.

The last major earthquake to hit the region was in 1927 — a 6.2-magnitude tremor that killed 500 people and injured another 700.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman announced Thursday that a new multi-year plan to protect Israel from earthquakes will be presented to the cabinet this month.

“Last year, we carried out the biggest earthquake exercise in years,” the minister said in a statement.

“We learned many lessons, one of which was the need for a multi-year home front defense plan, especially for the north. This month, we’ll present it to the cabinet and I’m sure we’ll get the green light and budget to get started.”

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