Snow began falling in the elevated suburbs of Jerusalem on Wednesday, following a deluge of rain that shut down major arteries across Israel and turned highways into raging rivers on Tuesday.
As temperatures began falling in the capital, there was some accumulation of snow, including 2cm on the ground in both Gilo and Pisgat Ze'ev. This was sufficient for some enterprising Jerusalemites to build small snowmen and to sled on plastic bags.
While public transport is running as per usual, Jerusalem residents have been asked to avoid driving private vehicles after 1 p.m. to minimize congestion.
It was also announced on Wednesday that all of the courts in Jerusalem, other than the Supreme Court, would be closed for anything other than emergency cases starting at 11 a.m.
All other scheduled cases were cancelled for the day.
It was unclear if the Supreme Court would remain open all day or also close at some point earlier than usual. Parties with cases were encouraged to check-in with the courts for updates.
Heavy snow was likewise falling on Wednesday in the northern Golan Heights after a meter of snow fell on Mount Hermon overnight. Snow also was falling in Nazareth, as well as in the Galilee, in Migdal Oz and Beit El. The Kiryat Arba municipality sent children home from school for fear that snow would block the road.
At 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, the national transportation police said that because of heavy snowfall they had closed the following roads in the north of Israel: Northbound traffic from the Shiryon junction, Alrom junction, and Wasset junction, as well as the right lanes of highway 6 heading south from Iron, which is closed because of holes in the asphalt caused by the storm.
In addition, they said the Yagur interchange heading towards highway 70 is flooded and that highway 89 between Horpish and Miron is iced over and closed, as well as the road between Ma'alot and Horpish. They added that Highways 89 and 854 are snowed over with heavy fog.
So far in the northern district rescue services have cleared three cars that became trapped by snow and ice.
Further south, highway 60 southbound from Gilo in Jerusalem has been closed because of snow, the Judea and Samaria district police reported.
The national police headquarters announced mid-afternoon that altogether their rescue services have assisted 70 people who were in danger by rising waters and snow flood on the roadways. These include a truck driver rescued after his truck ran into the Himar river next to Arad and a man whose kayak overturned in the Ayalon river in TA.
Police added that the bodies of a Palestinian women and a Samarian woman washed up on a river bank near Tulkarm on Wednesday, after the car they were traveling in the night before got swept into a creek bed by rising flood waters.
Yonah Jeremy Bob and Ben Hartman contributed to this report.
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