BEIRUT — Heavy rains and fierce winds pummeled the Middle East over the weekend, sinking a ship off Israel's coast and killing a woman in Lebanon whose car was crushed when a tree fell on it.

The storm brought unusually cold temperatures, below freezing in some spots. It ended weeks of unseasonably warm and dry weather that contributed to dozens of forest fires in Lebanon and helped feed a massive blaze in Israel that destroyed thousands of hectares of forest.

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It whipped up sandstorms in Jordan and Egypt, which closed its largest Mediterranean port. In Syria, snow blanketed the streets of Damascus for the first time this winter. Schools sent students home early and children ventured outside to play in the streets.

Syrian authorities closed their main port of Tartous. In Egypt, 12-foot waves forced shut the port of Alexandria — the country's largest — as well as another in the town of Nuweiba along the Red Sea coast of the Sinai Peninsula.

Heavy rains flooded the streets in Beirut and snow forced some road closures in remote mountain towns in Lebanon. A woman died Saturday night when an uprooted tree fell on her car in the northern port city of Tripoli, authorities said. Flights in and out of Beirut's international airport were delayed.

In the Gaza Strip, strong winds and lashing rains caused cracks in the pier and the breakfront at the harbor local fishermen use. No one was hurt, but civil defense workers and the Gaza maritime police were hauling boats out of the water and moving them and other fishing equipment to safer ground.

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