Rare snowstorm slams Jerusalem

Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock, two of the holiest sites for for Jews and Muslims, were covered in snow after a rare snowstorm blanketed Jerusalem on Friday.

Dusan Vranic/AP

Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock, two of the holiest sites for for Jews and Muslims, were covered in snow after a rare snowstorm blanketed Jerusalem on Friday.

A snowstorm of rare intensity blanketed the Jerusalem area and parts of the occupied West Bank on Friday, choking off the city and stranding hundreds in vehicles on impassable roads.

Israeli authorities said at least 50 centimeters (20 inches) had fallen since Thursday, and forecasters said the snow would continue through much of the day.

Two ultra-Orthodox Jewish men walk past the Damascus gate during a rare snowstorm in Jerusalem on Friday.

Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

Two ultra-Orthodox Jewish men walk past the Damascus gate during a rare snowstorm in Jerusalem on Friday.

“In my 54 years I don’t remember a sight like this, such an amount I cannot recall,” Nir Barkat, mayor of Jerusalem, said.

While locals were instructed to remain in their homes, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was still expected to meet on Friday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

A man treads through snow near Jerusalem’s Old City walls on Friday.

DARREN WHITESIDE/REUTERS

A man treads through snow near Jerusalem’s Old City walls on Friday.

Kerry arrived on Thursday and met in the West Bank city of Ramallah with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in his latest shuttle mission to try and move forward lagging peace talks.

The extent of the storm overburdened Jerusalem’s rescue services, and the Israeli military helped police rescue hundreds of people stranded in vehicles on highways near Jerusalem, with more than 500 being housed in a city convention being used as a makeshift shelter.

The snow left hundreds of vehicles stranded on impassable roads.

Brian Snyder/AP

The snow left hundreds of vehicles stranded on impassable roads.

All highways leading into the city were shut until further notice, with ploughs impeded by the continued snowfall and freezing temperatures, Israel Radio reported.

RELATED: STUBBORN WINTER STORM CONTINUES TO WREAK HAVOC

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man makes his way through snow that blanketed Jerusalem overnight.

DARREN WHITESIDE/REUTERS

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man makes his way through snow that blanketed Jerusalem overnight.

Falling tree branches toppled electricity wires leaving thousands without electricity, the broadcaster added.

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Nation / World – NY Daily News

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