As snow continues to pile up in Jerusalem and northern mountain tops, tens of thousands of Israeli households are still without power.
The Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) said 28,000 households across the country are without power as a result of the tough weather conditions.
Meanwhile, in the south, the bodies of two dead men were found in Ein Namer near the Tze'elim Stream. The first body was found late Saturday afternoon and the second one roughly half an hour later. Police are examining the possibility that the two are men who were reported missing three days ago from the Bedouin community of Tarabin.
The police have published a list of roads currently closed because of the storm:
- Route 443, from Macabim to Jerusalem, in both directions.
- Route 1, from Latrun to Sakharov Gardens, in both direction.
- Route 4, Zikim, Yad Mordechai, Nativ Ha'asara, in both directions.
- Route 232, Kochav Michael, in both directions.
- Route 241, Magen Gilat, in both directions.
- Route 352, Neora, in both directions.
- Route 446, Ofarim Rentis, in both directions.
- Route 4775, Sha'ar Ariel to Rahelim Junction, in both directions.
- Route 60, from the tunnels to Kiryat Arba, in both directions.
- Route 375, Zur Hadasah Junction to Hussuan Junction, in both directions.
- Route 386, from Jerusalem's Statf Square, in both directions.
- Route 395, from Cislon to Ramat Raziel, in both directions.
- Route 436, From Nabi Samuil (Tomb of Samuel) to Givat Ze'ev, in both directions.
- Route 425, From Hadar Mountain to Abu Ghosh, in both directions.
- Route 234, Tze'elim Bridge, in both directions.
Those disconnected from power include 9,000 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. Some 2,000 employees are working to repair the malfunctions.
The Defense Ministry and IDF have provided more than 30 heavy vehicles to help clear roads of snow. The vehicles operating in Jerusalem and northern Israel include tractors, bulldozers and armored carriers. The ministry also provided petrol and diesel oil tanks for those without power.
Soldiers provided residents who were snowed in with field rations.
Armored carrier in Jerusalem (Photo: Almog Melichi)
A woman from the settlement of Yitzhar who went into labor was rushed to the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva via a Black Hawk helicopter. The Air Force aided the evacuation effort as access to the settlement was blocked.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a situation assessment with several ministers, the police commissioner, the IDF chief of staff and IEC chairman.
Troops in Safed
Netanyahu said the main tasks are "saving lives while tracking down elderly who require treatment, opening all routes to those places that are still without power and preparing for floods."
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon
issued a statement from the Home Front Command's situation room in Latrun and said he found members of the defense establishment, IDF
and other rescue forces to be handling the effects of the storm "well."
Armored carrier enters Jerusalem
Ya'alon said there are two main tasks, "To seek people who need help, provide food and heating and evacuate them; and help members of the IEC restore electricity once routes are open."
Saturday in Jerusalem (Photo: Sarah Penn Wenfeld)
Responding to criticism at Israeli authorities handling of the storm he said, "There is no room to talk about failure." He nevertheless noted that the "storm took us by surprise in its magnitude and consequences but we were quick in our preparations."
Commenting on the State Comptroller's announcement that he will examine the authorities' handling of the situation, Ya'alon said decisions should not be made "out of fear of inquiry commissions but according to the situation itself."
Western Wall in white (Photo: Yair Sagi)
Photo: Yair Sagi
The storm that hit Israel on Thursday has claimed the lives of two people thus far. In Lod, a year-old baby died in a house fire that was likely caused by an electric heater that was left running near the baby's bed. In Rishon Lezion, a 37-year-old man died after falling off a ladder, trying to fix a roof leak.
The toughest challenge facing IEC workers are finding access to dozens of sites across Jerusalem, Safed and the surrounding areas. Many roads and access routes are still blocked due to piling snow and many vehicles were left stranded in main roads. Additionally, countless trees and street lights have collapsed.
Dozens have arrived at the Hadassah Ein Kerem and Mount Scopus hospital in the capital.
Trying to keep warm (Photo: Yair Sagi) Light Rail (Photo: Ilya Kreins)
Weather forecasts predict that the storm will begin to wind down at around noon, but snow is still expected in Jerusalem, northern mountains and perhaps in the Negev. Jerusalem residents reported that snow has piled up 40 centimeters high. In the Golan Heights, snow levels reached 60 centimeters.
Due to the storm, Israel Railways announced two trains will leave the Malcha station in Jerusalem towards Haifa on Saturday at 11m and 2 pm. They will stop over in Beit Shemesh, Lod, Tel Aviv, Netanya, Binyamina and Haifa.
Raanan Ben-Zur contributed to this report
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