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Middle East

Rare snowstorm leaves Jerusalem in lockdown


A rare snowstorm has blanketed Jerusalem, forcing a lockdown with police blocking access to and from the city.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld says citizens have been told not to enter or leave Jerusalem. Some 1,500 people were evacuated from stranded vehicles overnight.

Rosenfeld says three emergency centers have been set up and medics treated 350 people for cold-related symptoms. Mayor Nir Barkat says he asked the military for assistance.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he was briefed on the emergency measures and even visiting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, a former Massachusetts senator, made a remark about the weather, saying the snow made him feel "at home."

The rest of the region has also been pounded by the wintry weather. Gaza has experienced its first snow in a decade.


Israelis walk in the snow outside Jerusalem's old city

Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock, some of the holiest sites for for Jews and Muslims, are covered in snow in Jerusalem on 13 December 2013