TEL AVIV (Jan. 15)
Fierce gales and snowstorms — the worst in 27 years, according to local meteorologists — blanketed most of Israel today, isolated Jerusalem for hours and forced the cancellation of a scheduled meeting between the U.N. Mideast envoy Ambassador Gunnar Jarring, and Israel’s Foreign Minister Abba Eban. Ambassador Jarring’s headquarters at Nicosia, Cyprus, was notified when it became apparent that the storm was not abating. No new date for the meeting was announced.
Emergency crews of Jerusalem’s public works department, unused to the heavy snow — 12 inches blanketed the streets of Jerusalem last night — nevertheless managed to clear the Shaar Hagai road with heavy equipment, thus reopening communications between the capital and Tel Aviv. Their work was hindered by a power blackout that darkened large sections of the city when trees felled by the gale-force winds knocked down electric power lines.
News dispatches, including those of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, were routed via Tel Aviv. Kol Israel, the Government-owned broadcasting network, was the only means of communication during most of the day. Schools were shut down and shops closed. Hadassah Hospital requested police assistance for transportation in emergency cases.
While Jerusalem was probably hardest hit by the storm, snow fell heavily in the Golan Heights, in Galilee and in Beersheba in the Negev. Tel Aviv on the coast was buffeted by a hailstorm and suffered sub-zero temperatures, as did Jerusalem and many normally mild regions of the country. Shipping was at a standstill at Haifa, Israel’s largest seaport, where gale winds ripped the roofs off some buildings. Safad, in the hills of central Galilee, was buried under snow and was accessible only by vehicles having four-wheel drive.
Police were called upon to rescue a group of school children stranded in the hills near Jerusalem. They had come from near Tel Aviv to see snow for the first time in their lives. The youngsters were taken to a nearby village and given hot drinks and beds for the night.
Weather forecasters could see no end to the storm. The latest forecast this evening was for more snow and high winds for most of the country.