The IDF launched a three-pronged program to assist the Israel Police in dealing
with the storm over the weekend.
An army source said Saturday that the
three components of the IDF’s plan consist of sending Home Front Command rescue
and assistance crews to Jerusalem and Safed; deploying dozens of vehicles and
drivers, who have been called up from reserves to carry out rescue and equipment
distribution missions; and calling on the IDF Engineering Corps to open up roads
blocked by snow.
“All events are under control, in all areas, including
Jerusalem and Safed,” the source said, adding that he did not know of any
citizen who was in a life threatening situation.
Many people remain
without power, particularly in Safed and will be reconnected with time by the
Israel Electric Corporation, the source said. In the meantime, those without
electricity are to be visited by soldiers.
Jerusalem has seen two Home
Front Command companies visiting vulnerable residents, such as the elderly, and
“This event is being run by the Israel Police. We
will provide immediate answers to all police requests [for assistance],” the
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon visited on Saturday a Home
Front Command control center, where he was briefed by the Command’s Jerusalem
District chief, the Home Front commander, the IDF deputy chief of staff, along
with police and Magen David Adom paramedic representatives.
accompanied by senior defense officials, then visited the Jerusalem Municipality
and received a briefing from Mayor Nir Barkat.
“We’re in an unusual
event, which Jerusalem has not known before,” Ya’alon said. “The most important
thing is of course human life, saving lives. The event is at its peak, and even
if the weather improves, the coming night is going to be difficult in terms of
cold and ice on the roads, which look open but are covered with a thin layer of
ice and could cause vehicles to slide.”
“I’m impressed by what I’m seeing
now,” Ya’alon said, referring to responses by authorities. “This won’t be solved
in the coming hours. It will take a few more days to recover,” he
Army crews tasked with opening roads are giving priority to routes
that enable repair teams to get to downed power lines, Ya’alon said.
important thing now is to enter a recovery phase,” Ya’alon stated.
in all, the event is under control, and the prime minister is holding
evaluations every few hours,” he said. “There is absolutely no failure [by
Ya’alon dismissed suggestions that authorities had
failed to respond to the situation appropriately, brushing off talk for any need
of a future inquiry.
From shortly after midnight on Thursday, authorities
understood they were facing a very large storm, and prepared accordingly,
pooling their efforts to respond in time, Ya’alon added.
days remain ahead, Ya’alon said.
Earlier on Saturday, the Defense
Ministry deployed an ample quantity of large vehicles, equipment and food
rations to assist emergency services operating in the snow in Jerusalem and the
Over 30 vehicles, including armored personnel carriers,
bulldozers, plows, tractors, generators and salt scattering trucks have been
sent to roads around the capital and Safed. Gas balloons and diesel fuel have
been sent to police to assist people stranded without electricity.
woman in labor from the Samaria settlement of Yitzhar was safely air lifted via
an IAF Black Hawk helicopter to the Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus in
On Friday, the Home Front Command set up a control center in
Latrun, deploying units to snow-stricken areas.
Drivers stranded on Route
1 and Route 443 at the entrance to Jerusalem were evacuated to emergency help
centers established at the Jerusalem Convention Center, in Mevaseret Zion and at
the Ofer military camp.
Some 2,000 stranded motorists in the capital and
on the highways leading to the city were rescued by police, IDF and Border
IDF vehicles and plows were aiding police and municipal
employees in efforts to aid motorists.
The Defense Ministry, working with
the Public Security Ministry and the Home Front Command, dispatched two convoys
of buses, bulldozers and trucks with generators to the capital to assist
civilians evacuated to rescue assistance centers.
A convoy set out to
Mevaseret Zion via Route 1, and the other headed out to Beit Horon via Route
443. Some 2,500 warm meals have been sent by the Defense Ministry to the
An IDF source on Friday that said dozens of heavy
army vehicles and assistance crews were sent to clear blocked roads from 1 a.m.
on Friday onwards.
“We’re prepared for the possibility of the storm
continuing into the coming days and we’re ready to provide further logistical
support, as well as distributing medicines and food,” the source
“We expect difficult weather conditions to continue, and we’re
asking all civilians to listen to instructions from emergency services and not
come to Jerusalem,” the source said.
The army has gone on a state of
alert in the Golan Heights due to the storm, and has deployed dozens of rescue
crews and heavy vehicles there on standby.
“We are more experienced with
dealing with this kind of weather in the Golan,” the source said.
on Friday decided to open the Kerem Shalom Border Crossing with Gaza to transfer
aid supplies to the coastal enclave amid harsh weather conditions hitting the
At the request of the UN to the Coordinator of Government
Activities in the Territories, Maj.-Gen.
Eitan Dangot, Israel implemented
the transfer of gas for heating and water pumps to Gaza facing heavy floods from
severe winter storms.
“Israel will do everything that is necessary to
assist the civilian populations in Gaza and in Judea and Samaria, with an
emphasis on providing electricity to the power plant in Gaza,” the army said on
A joint Israeli-Palestinian situation room was opened to
help distressed civilians in the West Bank with transportation and electrical
An unusual blanket of snow surprised residents in the Gaza
Strip, who stopped to take pictures of the snowy scenes. But the Palestinian
territory was also hit by heavy rain that flooded roads and made them
Emergency workers used fishing boats to evacuate 700 people
from their homes and provide food, blankets and flashlights to hundreds of
others caught in high water.Jerusalem Post staff and Reuters contributed
to this report.