Dusan Vranic / AP
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.
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.
Darren Whiteside / Reuters
An Ultra-Orthodox Jewish man prays at the Western Wall on Dec. 13.
Uriel Sinai / Getty Images
Ultra-Orthodox Jews enjoy the snow in the Mea Shearim neighborhood of Jerusalem's old city on Dec. 12.
Alaa Badarneh / EPA
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.
Ahmad Gharabli / AFP - Getty Images
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.
Abir Sultan / EPA
A young Ultra-Orthodox Jewish child plays next to a snowman in the Mea Shaarim neighborhood of Jerusalem on Dec. 12.
Brian Snyder / AP
A woman swims in the pool at the David Citadel Hotel during a snowstorm in Jerusalem on Dec. 13.
Alaa Badarneh / EPA
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.
First published December 13 2013, 7:23 AM