Holy Land blanketed in snow after intense winter storm

The Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock are covered in snow in Jerusalem on Dec. 13, 2013. Early snow has surprised many Israelis and Palestinians as a blustery storm, dubbed Alexa, brought gusty winds, torrential rains and heavy snowfall to parts of the Middle East. Dusan Vranic / AP

A snowstorm of rare intensity has blanketed the Jerusalem area and parts of the occupied West Bank, choking off the city and stranding hundreds in vehicles on impassable roads.

Israeli authorities said at least 20 inches of snow had fallen since Thursday and more was forecast.

"In my 54 years I don't remember a sight like this, such an amount I cannot recall," said Nir Barkat, mayor of Jerusalem.

The Israeli military helped police rescue hundreds of people stranded in vehicles on highways near the city. Read the full story.

An Ultra-Orthodox Jewish man prays at the Western Wall on Dec. 13. Darren Whiteside / Reuters
Ultra-Orthodox Jews enjoy the snow in the Mea Shearim neighborhood of Jerusalem's old city on Dec. 12. Uriel Sinai / Getty Images
Palestinians enjoy a snowball fight during snowy weather in the West Bank city of Nablus on Dec. 12. The Palestinian Authority announced that schools would be closed due to adverse weather conditions. Alaa Badarneh / EPA
Vehicles are seen stranded in snow in Jerusalem on Dec. 13. The hilltop city of Jerusalem was paralyzed by its fiercest snowstorm in years, with its mayor calling out the army to help stranded motorists. Ahmad Gharabli / AFP - Getty Images
A young Ultra-Orthodox Jewish child plays next to a snowman in the Mea Shaarim neighborhood of Jerusalem on Dec. 12. Abir Sultan / EPA
A woman swims in the pool at the David Citadel Hotel during a snowstorm in Jerusalem on Dec. 13. Brian Snyder / AP
Israeli soldiers arrest two Palestinian boys near Nablus in the West Bank on Dec. 12. There were clashes after Palestinians reportedly tried to reach the al-Tour area, near the Jewish settlement of Brakha, for a snowball fight. Alaa Badarneh / EPA