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Jerusalem enjoys extremely rare snowfall

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 11th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Jerusalem experienced a most delightful miracle when snow blanketed the capital of Israel. Children trampled through the fresh white powder, smashing snowballs into family and friends.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic online) - There was a downside to the winter wonderland. The biggest snowfall in two decades, the storm wreaked havoc on local roads. All exits to Jerusalem, Highway 1 and Highway 443 toward Tel Aviv as well as Highway 60 to Gush Etzion were closed to traffic for the entire morning.

The only way into or out of the city was a once-an-hour train to Tel Aviv.

Many residents however took time to delight in the rare sights such as the Dome of the Rock's golden dome bathed in a light dusting of white. President Shimon Peres built a snowman, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was pummeled from the right and the left - with snowballs.

"The downtown area is bathed in white," City Councilor Elisha Peleg warned drivers to stay at home. Many cars got stuck on the capital's hilly and icy streets. Peleg added that this was the biggest snowfall in Jerusalem since 1992.

"The elders of Jerusalem don't remember such a snowstorm in years," Peleg said.

More than 700 trees fell as a result of snow on the branches. The heavy snow also toppled electricity wires, leaving some neighborhoods, such as Malha, without power for an hour or two. However, there were no major incidents or injuries during Thursday's storm.

Teenagers in every quarter pelted unsuspecting tourists with snowballs. Masses of visitors snapped photos of snow clinging to ancient stone quickly turned the stuff to an icy slush.

Sacher Park, the traditional snow destination for out-oft-owners and Jerusalemites alike, was packed all day long, when the snow had been trampled into mud.

A cab driver from east Jerusalem picking up things for his family warned that the roads were treacherous. He said that business was not very good as most people avoided the roads, a sentiment he supported.

"Anyone who is out on the roads is endangering his life and endangering everyone else's life," he said. "Today is not a day for work, today is a day for fun and being with your family."

President Shimon Peres enjoyed the snow in Jerusalem by building a snowman with his bodyguards. "Jerusalem has many colors," he said outside his residence. "In the morning in the sunshine, she is golden. In the sunset, she is blue-ish . But when she is white, it so rare, so beautiful, so unifying.

"Whatever happens in Jerusalem is a blessing. This time is a blessing in white."

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