Rare snowstorm paralyses Jerusalem area, northern Israel

JERUSALEM Thu Jan 10, 2013 10:35am EST

1 of 6. An ultra-Orthodox Jewish couple walks in a snow-covered cemetery on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem January 10, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Baz Ratner

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The worst snowstorm in 20 years shut public transport, roads and schools in Jerusalem on Thursday and along the northern Israeli region bordering on Lebanon.

Elisha Peleg, an official in charge of emergencies with Israel's municipality for Jerusalem, urged the city's residents to remain at home and stay off the streets, telling Israel Army Radio the area had overnight seen its greatest snowfall since 1992.

He said 10 to 15 centimeters (4 to 6 inches) of snow had piled up in the city centre and more than that in outlying areas. "The downtown area is bathed in white," Peleg said.

"The elders of Jerusalem don't remember such a snowstorm in years," Peleg also said.

Public transport had ground to a halt, and many vehicles that ventured onto roads were stuck, he added, urging citizens to remain at home.

"Make it a family day. In the afternoon, the temperatures are supposed to rise and you will be able to head out for some shopping," Peleg added.

Israel Radio said a highway linking Jerusalem to Tel Aviv was blocked, and that much of the northern Galilee region was paralyzed by snow, with 30 cm (12 inches) said to have accumulated in the city of Safed.

(Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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