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Rare Overnight Snowstorm Blankets Parts of Middle East - 2003-02-25


Parts of the Middle East, including Israel and the West Bank, are covered in a thick blanket of snow, following a rare overnight storm.

On average it happens only once every seven years. A heavy snowfall has brought Jerusalem to a standstill.

Here is how Israel's English radio news reported the storm on its morning broadcast:

Well its presently snowing hard in the capital and we start with the maybe happy news for many students that there will be no school today in Jerusalem, due to the overnight snowfall. At present there is no public transportation in the capital, and the Jerusalem municipality is calling on drivers to stay off the roads until they are cleared.

But not everyone took heed of the warnings and some of those motorists who ventured into the city were greeted with the sight of snowmen in the middle of the streets. Few real pedestrians were seen.

But occasionally snowballs flew from behind the bushes in the general direction of passing cars.

Drivers also had to navigate through the city's narrow streets, confronted with the uncommon sight of snowplows.

At the Western Wall, a revered Jewish shrine in Jerusalem's Old City, a lone ultra-orthodox worshipper pressed his snow-covered beard against the sacred stones.

Just to the south of Jerusalem, in the Palestinian ruled West Bank city of Bethlehem, residents mainly stayed indoors.

Local people, whose movements are often restricted because of Israeli army curfews, told reporters it was a welcome change to be housebound just because of the weather.

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