The predicted severe winter weather has reached Israel, and much of the country is now on lock-down amid hailstorms and snowfall.
Hilltops across the Galilee are already covered in snow, the sea is raging with waves measures several meters in height along the Mediterranean coast, and Jerusalem has been blanketed in a layer of slush and ice with a promise of heavy snowfall overnight.
Already, a number of roads are flooded, as are some residential areas in Israeli coastal towns and in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Highways leading into Jerusalem have been closed to prevent vehicles from getting stuck en masse as they did during the December 2013 blizzard.
Schools in the Galilee and Jerusalem were closed preemptively, and children enjoyed a “snow day” even before the white stuff began to fall.
The biggest concern remains maintaining power supply to as much of the population as possible. Strong winds have already ripped a number of trees from the ground, and some have damaged power lines. Electric company technicians are contending with the harsh weather conditions as they battle ceaselessly to repair the damage.
In Gaza City, parts of which are situated on low, sandy ground, many residents have been evacuated from houses threatened with severe flooding. Most have taken to temporary shelters where blankets and warm winter clothes are being distributed.
In Jerusalem and the higher elevations in the Galilee, areas where many found themselves utterly cut off during the 2013 storm, over 1,000 soldiers have been deployed to assist residents and clear roads should the situation worsen.
News reports earlier in the week forecasting the inclement weather caused a rush on local supermarkets on Tuesday. Experts say the storm will come in two waves and last until Sunday.