Numerous historical reports of earthquakes in the Levant, including the damage and effects they caused have been accumulated over the last 3,000 years. Understanding the impact of damage from past events significantly improves our ability to cope with future events, for strong earthquakes in Israel are inevitable. The target of this study was to examine and analyze the existing damage reports as well as to develop new methodologies to track the damage that was not recognizable so far. First, the historical sources were screened and reliable lists of historical earthquakes and the damage they caused were constructed. What emerges from these lists is that Israel and its close surroundings suffered damage about 32 times during the last two millennia, that is once in about 60 years, although not regularly. In addition, a list of questionable events and a list of reliable events that were considered mistakenly to hit Israel were developed.
Following, two damage scenarios were inspected. The first was to decipher why the al-Nabi Dau’d minaret is relatively shorter in compare to other minarets in Jerusalem. In order to achieve this aim, written sources, a sequence of old drawings and the minaret’s metric proportions were inspected. It was found that the minaret was damaged during the 1834 earthquake and reconstructed to a lower height shortly afterwards. The second scenario portrays in high resolution the damage in Tiberias during the 1837 earthquake. For this, HGIS (Historical GIS) models of Tiberias prior to and after the earthquake were created. These two models were based upon visual historical sources such as maps, sketches, drawings, photographs and air photos. Using the models, it was possible to portray quantitatively the resulted damage and investigate its spatial distribution in relation with the local geology.
Once the damage was screened and interpreted, temporal and spatial patterns of earthquakes’ damage in Israel were characterized. It was found that earthquakes struck typically the southern, central, central-northern and northern parts of the Dead Sea Transform (DST), 4, 17, 8 and 2 times, respectively. Jerusalem appears as the most reported site with 14 entries. Following are Akko (Acre), Tiberias, Nablus and Tyre with 8, 7, 7 and 6 reports, respectively.