The biggest December snow and rain storm in the modern history of Israel and the Palestinian territories hit on Wednesday night. Now a storm three times worse is bearing down on the epicenter. For pictures of the storm, please click here.
I just landed back in Washington, D.C. this morning after nearly a week in Israel doing research for a new geopolitical novel I hope to begin writing in January. I flew out of Ben Gurion International Airport last night, and just in time. The airport closed for awhile after I left to prepare for the historic storm on its way.
For the many of the kids of Jerusalem, the storm has been much fun. Building snow men. Having snow ball fights. Sledding. Walking through and playing in the cold white stuff they rarely experience.
For the adults, however, it has been a different story. Roads in and out of Jerusalem were shut down by authorities after many cars slid off the roads or couldn’t climb the heights without snow tires or chains. Many commuters who live in Jerusalem were stranded and had to stay with friends or in hotels. Tens of thousands of Israelis are without electricity. Many poor and needs — Jews and Arabs — have no heat, or have a difficult time affording enough heat. In the coastal and desert areas there was no snow, much intense, driving rains (which I experienced while still there) that caused flooding in some regions.
The first snow fall in a hundred years hit Cairo. Snow also hit parts of Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. Now the first Israeli death of the storm has been reported.
Please pray for the authorities as they work around the clock to help so many in need. Please pray that the homeless and needy (and refugees in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan) are cared for with food and warm clothing and blankets and shelter. Please pray that people will turn to the Lord at this time for help, strength, wisdom and His great love and mercy.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)
Here’s the latest from the Israeli media:
“Tel Aviv and surrounding cities were experiencing hail, heavy rains and flooding on Friday night, while Jerusalem was in the midst of a snowstorm feared to be ‘three times worse’ than the snows that had hit Thursday and earlier Friday,” reported the Times of Israel. “Haifa was hit with its first snowfall in 22 years, according to officials, and much of the rest of the country was also grappling with stormy conditions expected to last into Saturday.”
“In what was described by Channel 2 as Israel’s ‘worst storm in decades,’ large portions of northern Israel were also hit by snow and heavy storms, as was much of the West Bank,” noted the Times. “Israel and the Palestinian Authority were working together to grapple with power outages and other aspects of the storm’s impact. Israel was also providing fuel and gas to Gaza, to keep the electricity on in the Strip, which was grappling with harsh weather conditions including flooding in some areas. In light of dangerous road conditions, police decided to keep both major major roads leading to Jerusalem (1 and 443) closed overnight.”
Other highlights from the Times:
Israel Railways announced that it would operate two special trains on Shabbat from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv and Haifa. The first train will depart at 11:00 a.m. Saturday and the second at 2 p.m. They will also make stops at Beit Shemesh, Lod, Netanya and Binyamina.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Friday night for security vehicles and jeeps that were being held at Latrun — some 16 miles (25 kilometers) from Jerusalem — into the capital, where they could help with expected rescue and evacuation efforts overnight. Evacuation of elderly residents was to be given top priority, according to the prime minister’s orders.
The Ayalon Highway was closed for nearly two hours in the area of Tel Aviv over fears of flooding but was later reopened.
Ben Gurion Airport halted operations for 40 minutes to undergo “advanced preparation” for the storm. Some 40 flights did manage to arrive in Israel before the start of Shabbat despite the inclement weather conditions, reported Israel Radio.