Snow fell Wednesday across the Middle East as a powerful winter storm swept through the region, killing at least four throughout the region, and forcing Syrians who have fled their country's civil war to huddle for warmth in refugee camps, raising concerns for the well being amid freezing temperatures in the flimsy shelters.
In Israel, a car accident near Beit Shemesh killed a 13-year-old and wounded two others moderately after a vehicle apparently skidded on the road.
Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip declared a state of emergency over the storm, after an 8-month-old Palestinian infant in the Tulkarem refugee camp was killed in a fire caused by a heating stove, Palestinian civil defense ministry spokesman Loae Bani Odeh said.
While the storm disrupted life for everyone, it proved particularly trying for the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees who live in tents and makeshift shelters in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, where a 10-year-old girl was reportedly killed.
In eastern Lebanon, security officials said a Syrian shepherd, Ammar Kamel, 30, and a 7-year-old boy, Majed Badawi, died in the storm Wednesday as they made the dangerous trek in rugged mountains covered with snow from Syria to the Lebanese border town of Chebaa. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Near the town of Anjar, men used brooms and sticks to try to clear the heavy snow from the tops of refugee tents, fearing the weight might cause the shelters to collapse. Inside the tents, adults could be seen huddling around wood-burning stoves to try to keep warm.
Snowfall and gales in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, where more than 400,000 Syrian refugees are sheltering, and destroyed some refugee tents.
"There's no firewood, no diesel," said Ali Eshtawi, a refugee from Homs who spoke by phone from a camp near the Syrian border where he said snow had caused three tents to collapse, leaving 19 people without shelter.
In Jordan, the kingdom prepared for the coming storm, internalizing the lessons of last year's cold snap, by closing down schools, government ministries and central roads.
The Turkish Anadolu news agency reported that dozens of Palestinian families have fled their homes in parts of Gaza City amid flooding.
According to the report, residents of Al-Nafaq district began vacating their homes Tuesday evening after local authorities released a warning that the area is in danger of being flooded with rainwater and sewage. Local authority warned of "humanitarian disaster" as the city's partially destroyed infrastructure may not withstand flooding from heavy rain.
"Hundreds of Palestinians' houses in Gaza City are at risk of flooding in areas where infrastructure has been most damaged," the authority was quoted as saying.
The Associated Press contributed to this report