Winter arrived with fill force on Thursday in Israel, with snow falling in Jerusalem, Samaria, the Galilee and Golan, and heavy rain falling in the rest of the country. Snow accumulations have been light, but the weather has been bitingly cold.
While Israelis in large towns have the option of staying home and turning up the heat, those living in many new communities in Judea and Samaria – dubbed “outposts” by the media – are much more in touch “with the elements,” living in caravans and stone buildings that have no electricity or gas.
Although accumulations are not large, snow in Israel tends to significantly disable traffic, because local and regional authorities do not have the equipment to remove it. An accumulation of just a few inches could disable traffic for hours – until the snow melts, in essence – but if the weather turns colder and the roads freeze, said Meir Bertler, a resident of the Yishuv Hada'at Farm in the Binyamin Region of Samaria, reaching many of the new communities could be difficult.
“In many of these communities the roads are not paved, and navigating the muddy roads is very difficult,” he said.
But Bertler noted that the difficult conditions had a silver-lining of sorts. “On Thursday, ironically, a vehicle belonging to the Civil Administration came to one of the outposts in order to serve an eviction notice, and got stuck on the road because it couldn't get through the muddy road,” he recounted.
Residents of the community, which is close to the village of Shiloh, were prepared to deal with the weather, but there are things they cannot prepare for.
“In some cases, caravans toppled over” due to heavy rain or snow, he said. “Residents have to be very careful and aware. Electricity can also go out, and many residents have gathered wood in case they need to make fires. The rain is a great blessing to all of us, but this is the time to remember that the new communities are at the forefront of the settlement of the Land of Israel, and that we should be spending more on infrastructure for these places.”
One negative consequence of the bad weather, he said, was the opportunity it gave to Arab thieves to raid Jewish homes. “When there is fog and rain it's difficult to keep an eye out for thieves. They realize this, and we find there are many thefts on farms, whether of crops or livestock. We therefore call on all farmers to take special cautions, remaining awake all night if necessary,” Bertler added.