Route 1 to and from Jerusalem reopened to private traffic early Monday morning after having been closed in both directions overnight Sunday-Monday due to icy roads. Public transportation was set to resume later Monday morning as was the Jerusalem light rail.
Road 443 to the capital was open to traffic in both directions.
Police urged drivers to proceed with caution.
Jerusalem’s children were off school for a second straight day, after the capital hunkered down for another cold night, with temperatures heading south and freezing roads after a brief thaw during the day Sunday.
Schools in Safed, Mevaseret Zion, Abu Gosh, and some town in the Golan Heights, the Galilee and Gush Etzion, remained closed Monday as well.
The Hebrew University initially said that it would begin classes after 12 p.m. but later announced that courses were canceled at all campuses for the day due to the widespread traffic issues that hampered access.
The Egged bus company Sunday night halted service inside the capital as well as on buses leaving and traveling to the city, for fear of slick roads.
The move came hours after officials opened the main roads leading into the capital, following several days in which the city was effectively cut off from the ground.
Temperatures dropped again overnight Sunday and into Monday, refreezing arteries made slick by a day that saw snow piled up from a record storm over the weekend begin to melt away.
Israel weathered the brutal winter storm “better than developed countries” accustomed to more frequent blizzards, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday afternoon.
Netanyahu said Israel had grappled well with the storm, but that there were still challenges ahead. He dismissed criticism of national and local governments in preparing for the storm, echoing a statement made a day earlier by an Israel Electric Corporation official that “we functioned better than developed countries that such storms afflict more often.”
Netanyahu said the priority was and remained “saving lives,” and warned drivers to take particular care on the still-icy roads.
According to the electric company, as of Sunday evening 14,000 homes remained without power, 6,000 of which were in Jerusalem. It said that during the day Monday, it would return power to hard-hit areas around the capital and in northern Israel. Many of the homes that were still without electricity Sunday were in settlements in the West Bank isolated by the storm.
Four people were killed from the inclement weather over the weekend, which brought snow as far south as Dimona and heavy rains elsewhere, though none from the cold in Jerusalem.
Buses had started to run again inside the city early Sunday afternoon, but mainly in the central areas. The municipality was bringing in 100 tons of salt from the Dead Sea to help de-ice city roads.
Several neighborhoods in the capital, as well as in Safed and in the Golan Heights, remained under heavy snow. The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo reported Sunday that two flamingos had died in the storm.
In the Binyamin Regional Council, covering the settlement areas in the West Bank north of Jerusalem, there were still about 3,000 families who had been without power or water since Friday, council spokeswoman Tamar Asraf told Israel Radio Sunday afternoon. “We are still in a hard situation… but things are starting to clear up,” she said.
In Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem, workers and the army were working to open roads and hook up water and electrical services, the Gush Etzion Regional Council said. Thousands have been without water or electricity since Friday and settlements in the region have been isolated due to closed roads. The council said steps were being taken to evacuate some residents.
Besides the regular emergency call centers — 100 for police, 016 for the local municipality — a government call center was opened for elderly residents. It can be reached by dialing *8840.
Throughout the West Bank, IDF helicopters were used to evacuate those who needed emergency medical attention, including, on Sunday morning, a mother and her three children in the settlement of Haresha who were found suffering from hypothermia.
Palestinian police said major thoroughfares in Palestinian-controlled areas were gradually being reopened, but the UN said many villages were still inaccessible. In Gaza, some 40,000 people were evacuated from flooded homes.
The snow reached 40-60 centimeters in Jerusalem and between 60 centimeters and one meter in the Golan over the weekend.
The storm, which hit hard in Syria, Jordan, the West Bank, Gaza and Egypt as well, and was given the international name Alexa, was largely over in Israel by Saturday night. Sunday was sunny in much of Israel, but still with colder-than-normal temperatures for December.
The damage caused by the storm was assessed at over NIS 120 million ($34 million), according to Israel Radio. Officials from the Finance Ministry said the Treasury would look into covering some of the costs incurred by municipalities in dealing with the consequences of the storm, such as floods and damage to infrastructure. Agricultural damage was put at NIS 100 million.