Roads to Jerusalem closed as huge storm batters Israel

Jerusalem Mayor Barkat says city facing "a rare storm, the likes of which we've never seen"; turns to IDF for help; Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv at risk of flooding; part of Highway 6 closed.

By JPOST.COM STAFF,
December 13, 2013 13:25
Snow plow in Jerusalem, Dec 12, 2013

Snow plow in Jerusalem 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

 
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Police worked to help dozens of drivers stranded on Jerusalem's streets and on the entry roads into the capital as intermittent snow continued to fall on Friday morning. Roads to the capital remained closed Friday morning. In the afternoon outbound lanes of Highway 1 reopened to traffic from Jerusalem in the direction of Tel Aviv.

IDF vehicles and snow plows were also aiding police and municipal employees in efforts to aid motorists.

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Ben-Gurion Airport closed on Friday for about an hour due to the storm battering the country.

Two incoming flights were redirected to Larnaca, Cyprus.

Due to heavy rains in central Israel police were preparing to close the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv on Friday.

As of 1:30 p.m. on Friday the level of the Ayalon River canal was 1 meter short of spilling onto the road between Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan.

Flooding also closed Highway 6 northbound between the Soreq and Daniel interchanges due to ice on the road.

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The Home Front Command set up a control center in Latrun overnight Friday, and deployed units to snow-stricken areas. Drivers stranded on Route 1 and Route 443 at the entrance to Jerusalem were being 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 Police forces.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat turned to IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz and Jerusalem District police chief Yossi Pariente for help in evacuating the motorists.

"We are currently using all means available to save the people stuck in the storm. Only after the weather calms will we be able to open all of the roadways in the city," Barkat said Friday morning,  adding that the city was facing "a battle against a rare storm, the likes of which we have never seen."

The municipality called on drivers to avoid coming to Jerusalem and instructed the city's residents to stay off the roads until the storm had subsided.

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