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The biggest snowstorm to hit Jerusalem in more than two decades shut down much of the city today, after four days of heavy rain also caused flood damage and power outages in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.
Two Palestinian women were drowned in flash floods in the West Bank yesterday, the Wafa news agency said.
Israeli army rescue units used military helicopters and naval boats to assist people stranded by rising waters at several locations throughout the country.
“The emergency and rescue forces are struggling around the clock in the storm in order to save lives,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an e-mailed statement.
The snow in Jerusalem, forecast to reach at least 20 centimeters (8 inches) before tapering off today, closed the main highway from Tel Aviv and shut down public transportation in the city.
The storm has cost Israeli industry at least 300 million shekels ($80 million), with half of it attributed to absenteeism as people were prevented from reaching work by roadblocks set up by police due to flooding, the Manufacturers Association of Israel said in an e-mailed statement.
To contact the reporter on this story: Calev Ben-David in Jerusalem at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at email@example.com