Roads, schools closed in Israel’s north and Jerusalem as winter storm hits

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The main roads were closed into Jerusalem as the worst storm of the year gathered strength.

The storm moved in late Tuesday night and many Israelis woke Wednesday morning to freezing temperatures and snow in the air.

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Snow covered the Golan, with schools closed Wednesday morning in Israel’s Golan and Galilee regions, as heavy rain socked northern and central Israel.

Schools also were closed throughout Jerusalem, including the Hebrew University, which announced Tuesday it would cancel classes for the rest of the week. A dusting of snow became visible Wednesday morning. Schools also were closed in many areas of the West Bank, where power also is out in several settlements.

The heavy rain and wind knocked over trees and power lines, leaving parts of Tel Aviv and Petah Tikvah without electricity starting Wednesday morning.

Flooding is also a concern for central Israel, as is the limited visibility expected due to sand storms in the south of the country.

Despite heavy hail at Ben Gurion International Airport, most airlines continued to fly on their regular schedules.

Some 1,500 extra Israeli troops moved to northern Israel to help close roads as needed and to dig out stranded drivers.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority declared a state of emergency in the West Bank and Gaza, with emergency crews being deployed throughout the West Bank and Gaza families living near the coast evacuated over flooding fears. Syria and Lebanon also faced heavy snowfalls.

Snow and rain are expected to continue to fall in northern and central Israel throughout Thursday and Friday, with more rain expected over the weekend.