Large parts of Jerusalem were still without electricity Saturday evening, as a snowstorm of rare severity continued to punish Israel for the fourth day. Snow continued to fall on Saturday but the storm was reportedly weakening.
About 9,000 homes were without electricity in Jerusalem and another 1,000 were cut off from electricity in Tzfat at about 6 p.m. local time on Saturday. All in all, 29,000 homes were still cut off from electricity throughout Israel.
Also on Saturday, police, the IDF and firefighters began moving hundreds of cars that had been stuck since Friday on the two highways leading to Jerusalem from the central plain – Highway 1 that connects Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and Highway 443 between Modiin and the capital.
Highway 1 was scheduled to reopen for public transport only, starting at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
For a more detailed report on Jerusalem's situation, including public transport inside the city, click here.
Police also asked the owners of the vehicles to come and get them. An effort is being made to open up at least one of the roads to traffic by Sunday morning.
The Israel Electric Company was still trying to bring electricity back on, in numerous sections of Jerusalem that had their power cut, because of trees that fell on high voltage lines, or because of other storm-related events. Some neighborhoods had their power restored on Saturday.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu outlined three main missions for the professionals and volunteers dealing with the crisis. The first is to save lives, with an emphasis on locating old people who require care. Secondly, Netanyahu said, roads need to be opened to the areas that have still not been reconnected to electricity. A third mission is to prepare for floods which are expected to begin as the snow melts.
The municipality in Tzfat said Saturday evening that most of the city is back to normal, but two neighborhoods are still without electricity. The snow has reached a height of 1 meter (more than 3 feet) and more. All of the roads to Tzfat and Meron are blocked, and the public is being asked not to try to drive to locations in the Galilee and the Golan.
Four people have died as a result of the storm. A baby perished in Lod when his home burned down because of a short circuit in a heating stove. A man in Rishon Letzion was killed when he fell from the roof of his home, where he had been trying to fix a leak. The bodies of two men who drowned were discovered Saturday at Ein Namer, near Nahal Tze'elim in the Negev.
The following road sections were closed to traffic in both directions, as of Saturday evening:
Road 1 between Latrun and Ginot Saharov
Road 443 between Maccabim and Jerusalem
Road 4 at Zikkim, Yad Mordechai and Netiv Haasara
Road 232 at Kochav Michael
Road 241 from Kibbutz Magen to Gilat Jct.
Road 352 at Neora
Road 446 between Ofarim and Rantis
Road 4775 between the entrance to Ariel and Rehelim Jct.
Highway 60, between the tunnels and Kiryat Arba
Road 375, between Tzur Hadassah Jct. and Hussan Jct.
Road 386, between Sataf Square and Jerusalem
Road 395, from Kisalon to Ramat Raziel
Road 425, from Har Adar to Abu Ghosh
Road 436, from Nebi Samuel to Givat Ze'ev
Road 234, Tze'elim Bridge