Earthquake readiness in volatile regions: the case of Israel

Deborah F. Shmueli, Ehud Segal, Michal Ben Gal, Eran Feitelson, Amnon Reichman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Jordan Rift Valley is a high-risk low-occurrence zone for earthquakes, with documented incidences within the last millennium causing widespread destruction. This research examines the implications of the immediate risks for earthquake readiness. Due to data availability, we focus on Israel’s readiness for earthquakes and compare our findings with a cursory review of readiness in the proximate countries. Readiness refers to mitigation and preparedness (before), response (during) and recovery (after). The immediate and palpable threats in the region are wars and terrorism, and our hypothesis is that governance culture in this volatile region is geared toward capacities and expertise which have been developed to address national security threats, characterized by emphasis on quick response. We expect to see a bias toward immediate response with regard to earthquake readiness as well, with attention also paid to preparedness. Accordingly, we hypothesize that other aspects of readiness, such as retrofitting of buildings and infrastructure in the mitigation category, lag behind in countries surrounding the Jordan Rift. To test this, we develop and apply a regulatory system scan and assessment methodology to the Israeli case. The methodology includes structured mapping and evaluation of the relevant regulatory system as well as actual policy outputs. The process includes inputs from policy makers, experts, and stakeholders. Findings show that the country’s earthquake readiness regime is indeed heavily biased toward immediate response which is continually advancing and improving, managed by security-related bodies. In contrast, mitigation efforts are deficient and little is being done to improve the situation. A survey of readiness efforts of other countries along the Jordan Rift points to a similar situation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-423
Number of pages19
JournalNatural Hazards
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Springer Nature B.V.


  • Earthquake readiness
  • Israel
  • Middle East
  • Regulatory impact assessment
  • Regulatory system scan and assessment
  • Risk management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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