Tens of thousands of Israeli households'
power was cut off on Friday due to bad weather, in and around Jerusalem.
The Israel Electric Corps said that 29,600 households across the country are without power as a result of the tough weather conditions.
They include 12,900 in Jerusalem, 7,000 in the north, 2,000 in central and southern Israel and thousands more in the West Bank. The IEC said that it would take a considerable amount of time to restore electricity.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
commended emergency services and noted the country was preparing for a possible continuation of the harsh weather.
The snowstorm forced a lockdown in Jerusalem, with police blocking access to and from the city. Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz approved an emergency protocol for the Israel Railways to run trains throughout the day and on Saturday, according to needs.
|Snowstorm hits Jerusalem (Video: Reuters)|
Israelis were told over media and public broadcasts on Friday not to enter or leave Jerusalem and some 1,500 people were evacuated from stranded vehicles overnight, said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.
Three emergency centers were set up and medics treated 350 people for cold-related symptoms, Rosenfeld said. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said he asked the military for assistance.
Without power, family eats in dark (Photo: Gil Yohanan) Technicians try to restore power (Photo: Israel Electric Corporation) Jerusalem in storm (Photo: Yair Sagi, Yedioth Ahronoth)
Snowed in. Jerusalem (Photo: AFP) Photo: AFP Photo: AFP Photo: EPA Photo: Gil Yohanan Photo: Gil Yohanan Photo: Gil Yohanan Photo: Gil Yohanan Photo: Gil Yohanan
Among those who are cut off, many in religious settlements and neighborhoods. As Shabbat was entering on Friday afternoon, residents are expected to be left without heat and food throughout the Shabbat.
Irit Marilos, a mother of five, aged two to 12, has been without power since 10 pm Thursday. "At the moment they don't when the power is expected back. We don't have any heat, internet or phones. We are stuck without challahs for Shabbat, but we went to buy groceries in the grocery store and cooked what we had on the stove."
She said there were no candles left in the store and that she and her children were all wearing several layers in the dark.
The State Comptroller announced he would order a probe into the conduct of the electric company, public transportation, police, local authorities and welfare systems.
Internal Security Minister Aharonovich said that in several locations, power is expected to resume in only several days and that the storm may persist and even worsen.
The Jerusalem residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also been cut off power several times throughout the day.
"This is a national disaster," said Tal Vaknin, who was hosting a radio show that got "numerous calls from people who were stranded in roads; this is a huge failure by the authorities that were not prepared and weren't helping people."
According to the Israel Electric Corporation, "over 2,000 people are in the Jerusalem District… but some locations cannot be reached as a result of blocked roads.
A Rishon Lezion resident, 36, died on Friday after slipping from the roof of his house while trying to fix a leak in the middle of the storm. Paramedics who were rushed to the scene pronounced his death upon arrival.
Hail was falling in Tel Aviv and the Ayalon Highway was blocked for over an hour before reopening. Authorities reported the highway may be closed again if risk of flooding is suspected.
The weather even featured in talks between visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,
who said he was briefed on the emergency measures.
Kerry, a former Massachusetts senator, said the snow made him feel "at home."
"I have heard of making guests welcome and feeling at home. This is about as far as I've ever seen anything go ... giving me a New England snowstorm," Kerry said as he viewed a snow-covered Old City of Jerusalem with Netanyahu.
Egypt's state MENA news agency said the country's two Mediterranean ports near the city of Alexandria and two ports on the Red Sea remained closed for the third day Friday.
The report quoted the head of the Alexandria port authority, Adel Yassin Hammad, as saying the decision was taken to avoid possible accidents in the ports.
Rare snow also fell in Cairo's suburbs, the port city of Alexandria and a blanket of white covered St. Catherine's Monastery on Mt. Sinai.
Snow in Cairo Cairo
The cold weather was part of a storm, dubbed Alexa, which has been pounding much of Lebanon
and parts of northern Syria
since Wednesday, pushing temperatures below zero and dumping snow and heavy rains. The snow has heaped another layer of misery on the already grim existence of many of the more than 2 million Syrians who have fled the civil war raging in their homeland.
Omri Ephraim, Moran Azulay, Shahar Chai, AP contributed to this report
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