Storm Leaves Israelis, Palestinians Without Power for Days

Image: Storm Leaves Israelis, Palestinians Without Power for Days Snow covers the Dome of the Rock at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on in Jerusalem's old city on Dec. 14.

Sunday, 15 Dec 2013 12:16 PM

 

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JERUSALEM — Thousands of homes in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip remain without electricity and 5,000 Gazans are living in shelters after fleeing homes flooded in the worst storm to whip the region in decades.

Rain and snow that pummeled the area on Thursday and Friday felled trees, cut power lines, closed roads and touched off flooding. At least four people died in weather-related incidents in Israel over the weekend, including two men whose vehicle was washed away by flooding, Israel Radio reported today.

West Bank civil defense forces reported at least one death and 53 injuries, while 5,000 Gazans were evacuated to shelters and 96 people were injured, according to the Palestinian Ma’an news agency.

The storm will cost local Israeli governments 300 million shekels — about $86 million — the Haaretz daily reported, citing the Union of Local Authorities. A cabinet meeting originally scheduled for Sunday morning was delayed until the afternoon because of slippery road conditions, the prime minister’s office said in a text message.

Schools were closed and police asked the city’s 800,000 residents to remain inside because of icy roads. Main highways connecting Jerusalem to Tel Aviv and West Bank settlements were closed to private vehicles.

Some 14,000 homes were still without power, including 6,000 in Jerusalem, the Israel Electric Corp. said on its website today. Electricity has been restored to 90 percent of the households that lost power, it said.

“The company is continuing to operate on an emergency footing,” the state-owned utility said. “It will take a long time to fix the outages.”

Some homes in areas surrounding Jerusalem were left without water as well, according to Israel Radio. The Israeli army assisted civilian forces in distributing aid and clearing roads, the army said in an e-mailed statement late yesterday.

Minister of Agriculture Ahmed Assaf said by phone that the loss to West Bank farmers and livestock owners was “devastating” and that the government would pay compensation.

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