Among other things, the heavy winter storm that pounded Israel this past weekend provided an opportunity for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to demonstrate that they are well capable of defending the nation against more than just military threats.
As vehicles became hopelessly stranded on the roads of and those leading into and out of Jerusalem, authorities had only one place to turn: the army. Police were unable to reach all of the trapped motorists, and certainly could do little-to-nothing to extract snowed-in cars and trucks.
The IDF responded with convoys of armored personnel carriers that easily traversed the accumulated snow and brought blankets, food and warm drinks to the weary, but grateful motorists. During less stormy period, the heavy army vehicles began to pull those cars they could reach from the snow and ice.
Brigades of soldiers also transported and distributed food and other supplies to homes in need throughout the capital, and at least one class of future IDF officers was tasked with evacuating and assisting the city’s elderly.
While the amount of snow that fell on Jerusalem might not look all that impressive, and certainly not like a national emergency to readers from colder climates, it must be remembered that Israel is ill-prepared to deal with this kind of storm, the likes of which hasn’t been recorded in the region for over 100 years.
To make matters worse, over 30,000 homes in Jerusalem were cut off from the power grid during the first day of the storm, and some still haven’t been reconnected. That means over 100,000 people were without light and heat for four days, in sub-zero temperatures, huddled in uninsulated homes made of a single layer of cinderblock.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials have issued heartfelt thanks to the IDF, Israel Police, Israel Electric Company and other authorities, both local and national, for their tireless work during the storm.
Here are some photos of the IDF assisting the residents of Jerusalem: