A snowstorm of rare intensity blanketed the Jerusalem area and parts of the occupied West Bank on Friday (December 13), choking off the city and stranding hundreds in vehicles on impassable roads.
Israeli authorities said at least 20 inches fell since Thursday (December 12), and forecasters said the snow would continue through much of the day.
While locals were instructed to remain in their homes, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Friday, after making it through overland from a snow-bound West Bank.
He had just met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah in his latest shuttle mission to try and move forward lagging peace talks.
Snow flurries kept the usual crowds away from the walled Old City, with only a few braving the weather to enter and exit its ancient gates.
The extent of the storm overburdened Jerusalem's rescue services, and the Israeli military helped police rescue hundreds of people stranded in vehicles on highways.
All highways leading into the city were shut until further notice, with ploughs impeded by the continued snowfall and freezing temperatures, Israel Radio reported.
Falling tree branches toppled electricity wires also left thousands without electricity, the broadcaster added.
In the occupied West Bank, children took the opportunity to play in snow-covered streets.
In Bethlehem, the snow around the Church of the Nativity was beginning to melt, but some streets, trees and buildings were still blanketed with snow. People threw snow balls in the street and vehicles struggled to negotiate the roads.
In Ramallah a mosque minaret was covered in snow, while streets and buildings were under a thick layer of snow. Cars were completely covered by snow drifts, buildings, trees and roads were blanketed with snow.
This has been the most snow Israel has seen in December since 1953. Cairo, Egypt has also seen their fair share of snow, first time for them in more than 100 years.