Tornado, Sand-Storms and Oversized Hail Strike Israel

A small tornado ripped across the western Galilee Tuesday evening. Hail the size of golf balls also fell in the region. Scores were hospitalized. Freak stormy weather across Israel continues.

Ezra HaLevi , | updated: 13:11

The tornado touched down during a hailstorm in the Acco region, striking the Arab villages of Julis, Fassouta and Jedaideh. Hail as big as ping-pong balls was reported as far away as Nahariya. In southern Israel, sandstorms reduced visibility to less than three feet.

Nine foot waves were reported on the Red Sea in Eilat, with telephone and cellular service knocked out for the entire city. The highways through the Negev were also covered completely by several inches of sand.

On Sunday, four Israeli Arabs were killed in northern Israel due to flooding. Sahar Mehamid, 23, from Umm al-Fahm was killed in Wadi Ara and three women from the lower Galilee village of Touran were killed in a car accident after driving through floodwater covering the road. PA resident Iyad Taha, from a village near Ramallah, also drowned in the floodwaters.

Tuesday's hail and tornado broke electric poles, overturned cars, uprooted trees, damaged crops and injured more than 75 people - most lightly. Most of those injured were struck by objects whipped up by the strong winds, including two children, who suffered deep lacerations. The villages lost electricity for many hours.

Farmers report that avocado, lychee and banana crops were severely damaged by the winds and hail.

Vadim Amar, Mayor of Julis, said that the tornado damaged dozens of homes and asked that the region be declared a natural disaster site.

Tornados are rare in Israel. The occasional ones that have occurred have mostly taken place over the ocean and along the coast.

Hail was also experienced in elevated areas such as Gush Etzion on both Tuesday and Wednesday.

Elsewhere in Gush Etzion, an earthquake simulation exercise is being held Wednesday in Beitar Illit, in conjunction with the Defense Ministry, MDA, Israel Police, Israel Fire Department and others. The three-hour training event began at 11 AM.