Ice on roads causes delay in school day for northeners

Extreme weather conditions cause casualties; snow falls in Jerusalem.

By ELLIOTT CAPPELL, REBECCA A. STOIL, JPOST STAFF
December 27, 2006 04:12
3 minute read.
hermon snow 298

hermon snow 298.88. (photo credit: Channel 1)

Classes in schools in northern Israel were postponed on Thursday morning as a result of ice on the roads which could prove dangerous for drivers. Extreme weather conditions continued to sweep across Israel on Wednesday, causing havoc throughout the country. Following snowstorms in the Golan Heights, the Galilee and Hebron the previous night, on Wednesday morning snow fell in the Negev desert and later reached the central hills and Jerusalem. Due to the snowy conditions in southern Israel, Route 40 was blocked between Sde Boker and the Nifta prison, Route 31 was blocked between Mishmar Hanegev and Lehavim and Route 204 was blocked between Yeroham and Sde Boker. Also in the South, hundreds of Beduins were injured when several tents collapsed near the Lehavim Junction due to the stormy weather. Meanwhile, one person was killed and three others injured in a car accident on the Coastal Highway, when a bus collided with a car on the section of the road between Fureidis and Kibbutz Ma'agan Michael. The casualties were evacuated to Hillel Yaffe Hospital in Hadera. In one of the most dramatic rescues of the day, police officers ferried a woman about to give birth to safety, after the tent in which she lived collapsed in a Beduin encampment between Rahat and Lehavim. MDA teams were scrambled after receiving a report that members of a family from the Al-Marni Beduin had been injured when their tent collapsed as a result of wind and rain. MDA ambulances were called to the scene, but the difficult road conditions prevented them from reaching the stricken family. Instead, said assistant subdistrict commander Asst.-Cmdr. Peretz Amar, police vehicles brought the woman and three children to the main road where they were met by the MDA ambulances. After the rescue, police feared that the worsening weather conditions would cause more tents in the encampment to collapse and decided to evacuate 110 other residents of the encampment to a sturdier building for the duration of the storm. With assistance from the Fire Department and the Rahat Local Council, the residents were all taken to the Abu Sineh School in Rahat until the stormy weather passed. In other incidents, a man was swept away in his car by floods near Beit Zayit and, in Acre, a eucalyptus tree fell on an elderly woman who was evacuated to hospital with light injuries. In Tel Aviv ten vehicles were damaged from falling trees and 22 houses were flooded, mainly in the southern part of the city. On Abba Eban Street in Herzliya, one of the eastbound lanes collapsed on the stretch of the road between Wingate Street and Yehoshua Ben Nun Street. No injuries were reported as a result of the collapse, which police blamed on the weather conditions. Major roadways throughout the country were closed in places due to flash floods in low-lying areas and snowfall in higher areas, as motorists tried to make their way home while conditions worsened throughout the day. While snow, ice and floods carry their downside, the sudden heavy rainfall was "excellent" for the country, said Uri Shore, spokesman for Israel's Water Commission, "but it might not be enough." "Underground water reserves, the source of two-thirds of Israel's water supply, are 1.8 meters below last year's levels," Shore said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. He said Israel needed this rain "badly," after parts of the country had gone 38 days without it. The Kinneret, which Shore said was about 47 cm. lower than it was this time last year, saw 20 mm. of rain Tuesday night, according to the IMS. Magen David Adom has ambulances and 4x4 vehicles on standby across the country in advance of the snowfall to ensure a quick response to emergency calls. In light of the expected freeze, the Jerusalem Municipality rented hotel rooms for the city's homeless to at least give them a roof over their heads. Judy Siegel contributed to this report.


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