A 5.1 magnitude earthquake hit Iran shortly after midnight on Thursday night with its epicenter 34 miles east of the capital city Tehran. AFP reported that panicked residents rushed into the streets, abandoning buildings in fear they would collapse. Two people were killed and 55 injured in the earthquake. The earthquake was followed by eight more mild aftershocks. Many people remained outdoors in fear of another quake. The Iranian government warned people to observe social distancing despite the earthquake.
The center of the earthquake was south of Mount Damavand, near the city of Damavand. The mountain is volcanic, and at 18,900 feet, is Iran’s highest peak. The US Geological Survey said the quake struck at a depth of 10 kilometers.
Iran is in a seismically active region. In November 2017 a 7.3-magnitude tremor in the western province of Kermanshah killed 620 people. In 2003, a 6.6-magnitude quake in southeast Iran decimated the ancient mud-brick city of Bam and killed at least 31,000 people. It did not damage the nearby plant. Iran’s deadliest quake was a 7.4-magnitude tremor in 1990 that killed 40,000 people in northern Iran, injured 300,000 and left half a million homeless.
In February, just before the holiday of Purim, a magnitude 5.7 earthquake struck the Turkey-Iran border region and was followed by three aftershocks between magnitude-4.1 and magnitude-4.4 and eleven hours later by an even larger 6.0 aftershock. 51 people were reportedly injured in the quake.
In December, a 5.1 magnitude earthquake hit less than 30 miles from the 1,000-megawatt Bushehr nuclear power plant, Iran’s only operating nuclear power plant.
In a previous interview with Breaking Israel News, Rabbi Yosef Dayan, a former member of the Sanhedrin, emphasized that catastrophes in Iran should be perceived as divine retribution, since one of the Hebrew names for God, ‘Elohim’, represents the aspect of judgement brought about through nature.
“Though it is impossible to understand entirely God’s will or how he acts in the world, we are required to see his hand in everything that happens,” Rabbi Dayan told Breaking Israel News. “We have to recognize that God judges the world. It is our role to differentiate between good and evil, to be happy when good is rewarded and even to be happy when evil is punished.”
The rabbi cited Psalms as a source for this.
The righteous man will rejoice when he sees revenge; he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked. Men will say, “There is, then, a reward for the righteous; there is, indeed, divine justice on earth.” Psalms 58:11-1
He added that the punishment is harsh. “Any country that threatens others with total destruction, like Iran has done, it is forbidden to show mercy, even to the individuals that are not directly guilty,” the rabbi said. “They will require you to show mercy but they do not ever show mercy.”
Rabbi Dayan stated that this is one of the lessons Israel learned at the parting of the Red Sea.
Sing to Hashem, for He has triumphed gloriously; Horse and driver He has hurled into the sea. Exodus 15:21
“What did the horses do that they deserved to be drowned?” the rabbi asked rhetorically. “Just so, even the Iranians who did not take part in the evil of their government are being judged along with their rulers. In the end-of-days, there will be a return of nations, and every person will be judged as part of a nation and not just as an individual.”
The question of whether to show mercy to an enemy is not just theoretical in this case. Israel is well known to be among the first to offer help to other nations in natural disasters all around the world. In 2016, the United Nation’s World Health Organization recognized the Israeli army’s field hospital as “the number one in the world.”
Both Turkey and Iran are considered probable participants in the pre-Messiah War of Gog and Magog. It should also be noted that according to Jewish tradition, God will also enter the fray, using the forces of nature as his armies.
After Iran’s earthquake in 2003, Israel offered assistance, but the hand stretched out in friendship was slapped away.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran accepts all kinds of humanitarian aid from all countries and international organizations with the exception of the Zionist regime,” an Iranian government spokesman said at the time.