Transport chaos in Jerusalem as snow storm leaves thousands stranded

Hundreds are stranded on the roads leading up to Jerusalem and tens of thousands of homes in the city are without power, on the third day of one of the worst storms in Israel’s history.

According to reports, between 1,500 and 2,000 people were rescued from cars trapped in the snow last night and hundreds of others were evacuated to the city’s two main conventions centres.

The Jerusalem local council has requested help from the IDF’s Central and Home Front Command forces to deal with the crisis and a special command centre was set up at short notice in the nearby town of Latrun.

Ben Gurion International airport resumed flights on Friday after brief delays due to reduced visibility as a result of thick cloud cover.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said: “We are in the midst of a battle against a rare storm. We are working first and foremost to save lives.”

The Israel Electric Corporation has also announced that it is treating the storm as a “state of emergency”.

Jerusalem residents have been quoted in the Israeli media as strongly critical of how authorities have handled the crisis.

One local man, Tal Grossi told the mass-circulation daily, Yediot Ahronont that he thought the municipality and police were “clowns”. “They know how to photograph with snow-ploughs and do PR…but you can't get in or out of Israel's capital and hundreds of drivers were not notified on time,” he said.

Last updated: 10:56am, December 13 2013