CHRISTMAS IN JERUSALEM
Snow covers the Dome of the Rock on the compound know to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as Temple Mount after the worst snowstorm to hit Jerusalem for 20 years
Western part of the wailing Wall. The Kotel, is a retaining wall in Jerusalem that dates from the time of the Jewish Second Temple (515 BCE - 70 CE). It is sometimes referred to by gentiles as the Wailing Wall, the term that may be considered derogatory, as it implies the image of Jews wailing and moaning over the hardships they have endured throughout Jewish history. The Western Wall is part of the larger religious site in the Old City of Jerusalem called (the Temple Mount) to Jews and some Christians
Snow-covered valleys made Jerusalem look more like the Alps than the Middle East
Archeological dig near the walls. Jews have prayed at the Western Wall for hundreds of years, believing that the Divine Presence rests upon it and that the gate of heaven is situated directly above it. The tradition of placing a prayer written on a small piece of paper into a crack in the Wall goes back hundreds of years. Included in the thrice daily Jewish prayers are fervent pleas that God return to the Jews exiles to the Land of Israel, rebuild the Third Temple, and bring the messianic era with the arrival of Jewish Messiah.
A Palestinian policeman shirks the usual decoration to dress his snowman in the West Bank city of Ramallah
A Palestinian throws a snowball in the snow-covered Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem
An Orthodox Jewish man sits on the snow-covered ground at the Western Wall in the old city of Jerusalem. Although average winter temperatures can be chilly, it is unusual for the city to see such heavy snow in the winter.The Jeruslaem to Tel Aviv highway was closed this afternoon due to the cold and icy conditions. RARE COLD SNAP FOR THE CITY THAT BATHES IN 3,400 HOURS OF SUNSHINE A YEAR. Snow is not uncommon in Israel, and the country even boasts a ski resort in Mount Heron. But heavy snowfall in Jerusalem is rare, with average temperatures staying at a mild 9 degrees, even in the coldest months of January and February. A flurry of white flakes may descend every three or four years during cold winters but the city hasn't seen such deep snow since 1992. Back then, as much as 12 inches fell and police had to go on national TV to give drivers advice on how to drive in the snow. The rest of the year Jerusalem enjoys average temperatures of 18 degrees and 3,400 hours of sunshine. Elisha Peleg, an official in charge of emergencies with the Jerusalem Municipality, urged the city's residents to remain at home and stay off the streets, telling Army Radio the area had overnight seen its greatest snowfall since 1992. 'The downtown area is bathed in white,' Peleg said. 'The elders of Jerusalem don't remember such a snowstorm in years.' Public transport has ground to a halt, and many vehicles that ventured onto roads were stuck, he added, urging citizens to remain at home. The Jerusalem light rail resumed service today just before noon, but 69 bus lines remained out of service, with icy roads making travel tenuous.
Jerusalem’s outlying neighborhoods were the first to celebrate the arrival of snow in the capital on Wednesday.
The higher neighborhoods, including Gilo, Ramot and parts of Pisgat Ze’ev and Armon Hanatziv had 2 centimeters of snow on Wednesday afternoon.
Snow blanketed the rest of the city at 9 pm and fell for about half an hour.
Some traffic arteries opened later in the afternoon as temperatures rose and some snow melted. Public bus services partially resumed and were free of charge in Jerusalem, as an incentive to keep private vehicles off the slushy roads.
In the occupied West Bank, city streets were largely abandoned, with few residents chancing the hilly and widely rutted roads and schools kept shut because of the weather.
Stormy weather conditions continued in Jerusalem today with snow, torrential rains and strong winds across the region
A Muslim man prays in the snow in front of the Dome of the Rock inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound of Jerusalem's old city
The heavy snowfall has turned much of Jerusalem into a winter wonderland
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu enjoys the snow with his family today as snow affected several parts of the Middle East
Public transport has ground to a halt after the unusual snowstorm hit Jerusalem
Public transport has ground to halt as a result of heavy snow in Jerusalem
Orthodox Jews enjoy the wintry weather by building snowmen in the Mea Shearim neighborhood of Jerusalem
A general strike by government employees also kept Palestinians in their homes, as the Palestinian Authority has been unable to fully pay salaries following Israeli economic sanctions announced last month in anger at a campaign that won de facto United Nations recognition of Palestinian statehood.
The Palestinian meteorological institute said that snow levels in the Ramallah, East Jerusalem and Bethlehem areas had reached 10-20cm and as much as 30cm in Hebron.
Flooding was reported in the northern West Bank, where water 'inundated dozens of houses and widely damaged agricultural areas local farmers depend on for their livelihoods,' Jenin governor Talal Dweikat told Palestinian Radio.
'Dozens of families have been forced to flee their homes, but thank God there have been no deaths, and the Authority is dealing with the problem aggressively despite its financial problems,' Dweikat said.
The heavy snow has caused problems for people trying to get around in Jerusalem as public transport has virtually ground to a halt
A Palestinian security officer puts the finishing touches to his snowman decorated with a Palestinian flag in the West Bank city of Hebron
The snowstorm is so heavy an Israeli is able to go snowboarding in Jerusalem's French Hill neighbourhood
Jerusalem’s Fire and Rescue Services responded to more than 500 calls for assistance on Wednesday, after dozens of antennas and trees, and even a balcony, collapsed due to strong winds.
Emergency services rescued two adults and three children from a jeep using ladders, after the driver tried to fjord a river near Ein Kerem.
Firefighters have rescued around 20 vehicles from large puddles and flooded roadways, including a minibus with seven children early Wednesday morning.
Children makes snow angles in the heaviest snowfall to hit Jerusalem since 1992
Israel's emergency services have had hundreds of calls since the snow fell including vehicles trapped by unexpected flooding
Palestinians play in the snow next to a section of Israel's separation barrier in Qalandia between Jerusalem and the West bank city of Ramallah
Snowball fights erupt around the Dome of the Rock where up to eight inches has fallen since last night
The last heavy snowstorm in Jerusalem was in 1992
Hagia Sophia Mosque in the background. Hagia Sophia, i.e. (the Church of) Holy Wisdom, now known as the Ayasofya Museum, is a former Eastern Orthodox church converted to a mosque in 1453 by the Turks, and converted into a museum in 1935. It is located in the Turkish city of Istanbul. It is universally acknowledged as one of the greatest buildings of the world and sometimes considered the Eighth Wonder of the World. Its conquest by the Ottomans at the fall of Constantinople is considered one of the great tragedies of Christianity by the Greek Orthodox faithful.