Daily Israel Report

Hevron, Machpelah Cave Inundated With Snow

Jerusalem wasn't the only place in Israel where snow fell on Wednesday night
By David Lev
First Publish: 1/10/2013, 9:01 AM

The interior of the Machpelah Cave Thursday morning
The interior of the Machpelah Cave Thursday morning
Courtesy

Jerusalem wasn't the only place in Israel where snow fell on Wednesday night. Large amounts of snow fell in northern Israel, but also in Negev towns, such as Dimona and Yerucham. Meanwhile, parts of Gush Etzion and the Hevron Hills were snowed in, and a blanket of white covered the Machpelah Cave in Hevron.

Although generally hotter than the rest of Israel, the wide open spaces of the Negev were just what Wednesday's snowstorm needed to generate atmospheric conditions that dumped several centimeters of snow in a number of places. Several key roads in the Negev were closed due to snow. In addition to the snow, the runoff from the major rainstorms earlier this week is still flowing through many of the wadis in the central and southern Negev, with some of the wadis overflowing onto roads. Road 90, the main road to Eilat, was closed in both directions Thursday morning in the area of the Dead Sea, due to continued flooding.

Meanwhile, the snow inundated the Machpelah Cave – both outside and inside. Several years ago, members of the Hevron community began an effort to upgrade the prayer rooms used by Jews at the Cave. Leaking has been a major problem at the Cave for years, and community members have been working on fixing the roof of the prayer area for years.

However, the plans have been held up by the Civil Administration, and the plans are in the midst of bureaucratic approval procedures. In addition, the repairs must be approved by the Wakf, the Muslim trust that is the legal custodian of the Cave, and that group has so far refused to approve the repairs for the Jewish prayer area. Community members stressed that the situation was difficult and even dangerous, and that action needed to be taken to approve the repairs as soon as possible.