Every year, Israel similuates a nation-wide emergency…a natural disaster of some sort. Today, day 2 of the exercise, we will simulate an earthquake near a hospital in Ashkelon and a building collapse in Haifa. There has to be some irony in the fact that Ashkelon’s hospital is being tested…on a day when five rockets were fired towards the city.
Yesterday, as Elie and I drove home, we discussed the exercise and he told me that a friend of his had explained that recently city officials had come to his parent’s house and told them that because the house was built in the 1970s, before so many earthquake regulations had been put in place, the family had to bring in an outside consultant (at their expense) to have the house tested and, as it turned out, strengthened and reinforced.
Israel knows that this is a tough region to be in. As if our neighbors and their hatred were not enough, Israel sits at the crossroads between Africa, Europe and Asia…it also sits on the Syrian-African fault line. Every 70+ years, there is a major earthquake and we are a good ten years or so overdue (1927, 6.2 on the Richter scale). Several years ago, on a trip to Eilat, my husband and I took a jeep tour into the same mountains that we hiked in this past week (A Canyon So Deep
). The guide was amazing, informative, entertaining.
At one point, he took out a map and showed us mountain ranges in Eilat and Syria and how they line up almost exactly. It was amazing to think that the ground had shifted so violently over time that now land that had once been connected was located hundreds of kilometers to the north.
Syria is located at the northern most points of Israel; Eilat is the southern most point. If you travel by foot through the Red Canyon, as we did last week, you’ll quickly notice the rock formations…and in a sense, you can imagine the violent motions that pushed the earth up, around, down, and against other rocks. This is the violence that spurs us to practice, to prepare.
We have stringent building codes – we know what is coming. We know it is a matter of time – the earth will not be denied. But we are calmed by these exercises, by these building codes, by the amazing doctors and rescue teams. We watch them in action and we understand. All our lives, we live in the Hands of God. What man can do, he will – the rest comes from Above.