Strong winds, heavy rain and snow wreaked havoc across Israel on Sunday morning, in the winter season's first major storm.

The Environmental Protection Ministry issued an air pollution warning on Sunday due to sandstorms from Egypt brought on by high winds reaching up to 100 kilometers per hour.

The storm caused delays in Ben Gurion International Airport for both arrivals and departures.  Two planes were diverted to Cyprus due to the unfavorable landing conditions.

In Haifa, the port was closed to traffic.

A police officer from Hadera and a Caesarea development inspector were both lightly injured on Sunday when a tree knocked down by storm winds hit their car during a patrol in Caesarea. The two were brought to Hillel Hospital in Hadera and were released after receiving treatment.

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In addition to the two minor injuries, the body of a middle-aged Russian tourist who disappeared from a Netanya beach with high waves on Saturday was discovered by rescue services Sunday morning.

Amidst the storm, Magen David Adom on Sunday announced a joint project with the Interior Ministry to help bring warmth to the homes of Israel's elderly and infirm.

MDA opened a special telephone hotline on Sunday for elderly Israelis and the sick who need assistance and perhaps a warm meal due to the winter weather available at the number 1-700-500-430. It has been decided to keep the hotline open from Sunday until Monday operating between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Major delays were also experienced by all the different means of transport during the day.

Israeli Railways trains running north to south experienced major delays of over half an hour due to heavy traffic and a possible train breakdown cause by severe weather conditions.

Commuters were surprised by an unannounced transfer from trains to buses for those heading south from Tel Aviv's Savidor-Merkaz train station to Tel Aviv Hashalom (near Azrieli Towers) and Tel Aviv Hagana train stations.

Conditions were not much better along Israel's many roads. Traffic along the western half of Hagaaton Boulevard in Nahariya was closed in both directions by Nahariya Police on Sunday after the local Hagaaton stream began flooding its banks.

Highway 92 was reopened to traffic Sunday morning by IDF forces after being closed earlier near Sussita Junction due to loose land mines dispersed by the rains and heavy winds of the storm this weekend.

Soldiers finished clearing the road of mines and debris and authorized the reopening of the road late Sunday morning.

Even air traffic was affected with Haifa's regional airfield closed Sunday until further notice due to inclement weather conditions.


Also on Sunday, the Golan Regional Council announced Sunday morning its decision to close area schools early due to snowfall in the region after Mount Hermon reported 10 cm. of snow on the ground.

Children from affected schools will be sent home early.

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