Storms flatten trees and sukkahs, causing blackouts and concert cancellations

Despite extreme weather conditions, 120,000 Israelis trek through nature reserves and national parks as they enjoy the Sukkot holiday

People walk in rainy and windy weather on Jaffa street in Jerusalem, on October 15, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
People walk in rainy and windy weather on Jaffa street in Jerusalem, on October 15, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

An early season storm rattled Israel on Tuesday, causing sporadic power outages, a bridge collapse, beaches to shut down and concerts to be cancelled across the country, as Israelis marked the week-long Sukkot holiday.

The incidents came hours after a rare lightning strike in southern Israel left five members of the Hazut family from Beersheba injured on a beach, including a 14-year-old boy who was critically hurt. A woman in her 20s sustained serious injuries, while the condition of the other three was described as moderate.

All the victims were taken to Barzilai hospital in Ashkelon for further treatment.

Footage widely shared on social media showed a tree that had collapsed on a home in Sha’ar Golan in northern Israel, causing damage.

Clips shared online showed sukkahs — makeshift huts used during the Jewish festival of Sukkot — that had blown over in the northern city of Tiberias.

The Kinneret Authority announced that beaches surrounding the nearby Sea of Galilee were closed in the early afternoon as the rain and wind began to pick up.

Nearby, strong winds caused a bridge to collapse at the Tzemach Junction along the Sea of Galilee, leading to traffic jams in the area. There were no injuries.

In southern Israel, the Nature and Parks Authority said the Og and Murabba’at wadis in the West Bank’s Judean Desert would be closed to travelers on Tuesday and Wednesday due to fears of flooding.

The Tamar music festival at Masada near the Dead Sea canceled several performances that had been scheduled for Tuesday evening. Organizers told ticket holders that they would be able to receive refunds for the concerts.

Despite the extreme weather conditions, the Nature and Parks Authority said that 120,000 Israelis still trekked through national parks and nature reserves throughout the country on Tuesday. Some 5,000 spent the previous night camping at public sites.

Also, the volatile weather earlier caused two sukkahs to catch fire in the ultra-Orthodox city of Beitar Illit in the West Bank. Reports said strong winds had likely carried sparks from brush fires that broke out. Police temporarily closed several streets and disconnected them from electricity to contain the blaze.

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