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Snow blankets parts of Middle East for first time in years

Snow covered Jerusalem for the first time in six years

Samuel Osborne
Thursday 18 February 2021 18:26 GMT
Snow blankets Jerusalem after winter storm hits Middle East

Snow has blanketed parts of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel for the first time in years.

Snowstorms in the Middle East this week have disrupted traffic, postponed coronavirus vaccination campaigns and even led to cancelled exams at some universities.

People in Jerusalem woke up to the rare experience of seeing the city’s holy sites covered by snow on Thursday.

The Dome of the Rock, and the Western Wall sat under a white layer after an overnight storm.

Before dawn, children were up hurling snowballs at each other outside the Old City gates, as the faithful trudged to sites holy to Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

It was the first time snow has covered the city in six years.

People play by the Dome of the Rock on the compound known to Jews as Temple Mount and to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary during a snowy morning in Jerusalem's Old City (REUTERS)

The snowstorm began on Wednesday evening, leading the authorities to shut down public transport and block the main road to Jerusalem.

But as the storm eased overnight the municipality said it would resume services, and people even drove to see the spectacle.

One man died of hypothermia in the southern town of Kiryat Gat, The Times of Israel reported.

Palestinians have a snow ball fight on Mount Jerzim during a snow day near Nablus, West Bank (EPA/ALAA BADARNEH)

Elsewhere, gale force winds knocked out electricity in many parts of Lebanon, forcing many Lebanese - already accustomed to power cuts - to rely on generators for even longer than usual.

The first snow this winter in the Syrian capital, Damascus, led the University of Damascus to call off mid-term exams scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday in all its branches across Syria because of the extreme weather conditions.

However, it did not stop the Premier League football tournament in the capital from going ahead, with the Army Sports Club facing Al-Karamah as snow covered the pitch, the Syrian Al-Watan daily newspaper reported.

A Syrian family have a snowball fight during a heavy snowfall in Sawfar village, Mount Lebanon Governorate of Lebanon (/Bilal Hussein)

In neighbouring Lebanon, Storm Joyce hit late on Tuesday with gale force winds registering between 52 and 62 miles per hour, bringing the heaviest snow fall this year.

In Jordan, the Covid-19 vaccination drive was suspended due to severe weather conditions while schools and universities also put off classes.

Additional reporting by agencies

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