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Blanket of snow covers Jerusalem, West Bank

Jan. 10, 2013 10:46 A.M. (Updated: Jan. 10, 2013 10:08 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- The worst snowstorm in 20 years shut public transport, roads and schools in Jerusalem and the West Bank on Thursday.

The Palestinian Authority cabinet agreed to meet on Thursday morning to deal with emergency response to this week's storms, which had left hundreds homeless and injured in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

West Bank schools were closed on Wednesday and Thursday in anticipation of the severe weather conditions.

The Palestinian meteorological institute said that snow levels in the Ramallah, East Jerusalem and Bethlehem areas had reached 10-20cm and as much as 30cm in Hebron.

In Jerusalem, the Israeli official in charge of emergencies said the area had overnight seen its greatest snowfall since 1992.

Elisha Peleg said 10 to 15 centimeters of snow had piled up in Jerusalem city center and more than that in outlying areas. "The downtown area is bathed in white," Peleg told Israel Army Radio.

"The elders of Jerusalem don't remember such a snowstorm in years," Peleg also said.

Israeli public transport had ground to a halt, and many vehicles that ventured onto roads were stuck, he added, urging citizens to remain at home.

"Make it a family day. In the afternoon, the temperatures are supposed to rise and you will be able to head out for some shopping," Peleg added.

Israel Radio said a highway linking Jerusalem to Tel Aviv was blocked, and that much of the northern Galilee region was paralyzed by snow, with 30 cm said to have accumulated in the city of Safed.

Ma'an staff in Bethlehem contributed to this report
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