Despite enduring protracted
electrical outages, dangerous unplowed and unsalted streets and sidewalks,
school and business closings, Jerusalem residents expressed both anger and
understanding over the municipality’s unprepared handling of the storm’s
Indeed, following the most severe winter blizzard to hit
the city in decades – ostensibly shutting down the capital for nearly five days
– opinions of Mayor Nir Barkat’s response ranged from exacerbated disgust to
“I think [he] did the best he could – this is not
Canada or the US – it’s Israel, and we’re not used to this,” said Dor Ovadia on
Tuesday, as she walked up a largely thawed Ben Yehuda Street. “There are only so
many snow plows in this country.”
Ela Fallik, a high school senior from
Harmona Natziv who returned to school for the first time Tuesday for half a day,
said the municipality inflated expectations by claiming in the media to be
prepared one day before the storm landed.
“The day before they said they
were prepared and everything would be OK, but there are still neighborhoods that
are blocked by snow almost a week later,” said Fallik. “They didn’t do a good
job because people became trapped. There are still students who couldn’t go to
school today in Gilo.”
Asked his opinion of the extended recovery effort,
Israel Dutuch, a chabad rabbi from Ramat Eshkol, angrily pointed his finger at a
sole plow truck collecting snow on the normally bustling Ben Yehuda
“It was very bad, but if people like this were doing the same job
24-hours every street would have been cleaned,” he said.
that while the main road in his neighborhood was plowed, numerous smaller
streets and sidewalks remained covered in dangerous snow and
“Children in my neighborhood are still slipping and falling because
of this,” he said. “It was not good preparation.”
Moreover, Dutuch said
he was troubled by the discrepancy in aid afforded to US Secretary of State John
Kerry upon his Friday visit, compared to the vast majority of the city’s
“I heard when Kerry came they had over 40 plows to
take care of him,” he added. “But for the rest of us it was very
Meanwhile, Adi Covitz, who made aliya 20 years ago from Scotland,
walked gingerly with a cane through the shopping center, although she said she
was not handicapped.
“I’ve been using this to make sure I don’t fall on
the ice,” said Covitz, adding her apartment was without electricity for five
“I was really badly affected and the electric company gave me no
indication when they could come to help me.”
Still, Covitz conceded that
there was an understandable limit to the municipality’s efficacy in dealing with
such an unusually powerful storm in a city unaccustomed to such
“It’s a very difficult situation because I know they weren’t
expecting this,” she added. “I think they did what they could.”
shuk, which was largely shut down over the past four days, merchant Yaacov
Marciano squarely cast blame on the mayor.
“Shame on Barkat because he
was not prepared,” he said. “OK, he didn’t know it would snow like this, but he
should have been ready before this happened, not when the damage was already
While Marciano said he could understand his store’s forced closure
the day after the storm, he said it was unacceptable that the snow was not
removed by Tuesday, which he said resulted in unnecessarily lost
“The snow should have been removed by Sunday afternoon, not
today,” he said.
Still, Rivka, who requested her last name not be
published, expressed ambivalence as she shopped for baked bread.
they prepared for what we’re used to, but it wasn’t enough,” she said.
“Everybody understands the situation – that this was unusual.”
of the city’s overall recovery effort, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld
described the situation Tuesday as “tremendously improved.”
“The worst is
behind us and we’re coordinating with the municipality to make sure by tomorrow
morning all the schools are fully functioning, as well as public transportation
inside the city,” he said.
Asked to respond to frustration among
residents over the municipality’s handling of the situation, mayoral spokeswoman
Brachie Sprung said Tuesday that the city used every means at its disposal under
highly unusual circumstances.
“The Jerusalem Municipality is dealing with
the results of a rare storm that created a national emergency and is working to
responsibly restore the city’s routine as quickly as possible,” she
Sprung added that City Hall is actively coordinating a citywide
effort to streamline response efforts should a storm of this magnitude hit the
“As is done in any exceptional case, the municipality will
compile a comprehensive list of lessons learned from this with the goal of
improving future responses,” she said.