Snowstorm descends on Middle East
A heavy snowstorm has shut down roads leading in and out of Jerusalem and covered Israel's desert with a rare layer of white.
Snow has also landed in parts of the West Bank as a cold front swept through the Middle East. In Gaza, heavy rains that started on Thursday have been forecast for the rest of the week.
Jerusalem municipality spokeswoman Brachie Sprung says 10 inches of snow have already landed on the city, with more expected to fall.
Desert towns of Beersheba, Dimona and Yerucham were sprinkled with white and residents of Arad proudly showed off a snowman.
Snow has also been falling since Thursday in Lebanon and on Friday, it paralysed most streets in the Jordanian capital, Amman.
The Holy Land's ancient sites are picture-postcard pretty. Snow caps the golden Dome of the Rock, a Muslim site in Jerusalem, dusts the Western Wall, a Jewish holy site, and blankets the Nativity Church in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, where Christian tradition holds that Jesus was born.
"It's a magic wonderland," said Miriam Leibowitz, a Jerusalem resident, as she reached a snow-filled city park with her family. "In the middle of Jerusalem we felt like we're in Switzerland."
Jerusalem's light rail tram service was shut down after two trams, making dry runs without passengers, were derailed overnight due to the heavy snow, tram spokesman Ozel Vatik said.
The Syrian capital of Damascus and surrounding mountains were covered with snow, and the Beirut-Damascus highway has been closed since late Thursday.
In the Jordanian capital of Amman, snow paralysed most streets.