A moderate earthquake that measured 4.1 on the Richter Scale shook awake residents in Israel’s north and was followed by as many as 11 smaller tremors, according to the Israeli Geophysical Institute.
The tremor began at around 4:50 a.m. and its epicenter was measured close to the northern Sea of Galilee, approximately across the lake from Kibbutz Ginosar – where a Second Temple Period boat, one of the oldest ever found, was discovered in 1986.
Seismic activity is not unusual in this area. The Sea of Galilee witnesses tremors of varying size on an almost daily basis – according to researchers at the Sapir Water Pumping Station on the lake’s northern shore. The most recent cluster of tremors similar in scale to the most recent events was in October 2013, although the strongest of those did not manage to register as high on the Richter Scale.
Israel’s Jordan Valley and Dead Sea is part of the Syrian-African Rift Valley, which stretches from Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley to Mozambique in Southeastern Africa. Large earthquakes usually hit Israel approximately once every 90 years and there is concern that another one is due – considering that the most recent one occurred in 1927. That event saw more than 400 people killed and extensive damage to buildings in Jerusalem and Hebron.
A 2016 report by the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee’s Home-Front Readiness Subcommittee found that if Israel were to be struck by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake, an estimated 7,000 people would be killed, another 8,600 injured and 377,000 left homeless. In addition, the country could face damage of up to NIS 200 billion ($55 billion).