Extremely stormy weather hit Israel on Wednesday, causing deadly floods and significant damage to infrastructure and property, the latest winter wave to hit the country in the past week.
Several coastal cities experienced intense rainfall and were submerged by massive floods, trapping civilians and causing the death of a man who was trying to help a mother and her child in Nahariya.
The 38-year-old man was swept away in his car by the floods and was found later on near the beach. Medical teams attempted to resuscitate him but were forced to pronounce him dead.
National and Municipal rescue teams scrambled all across the country to rescue people trapped in the floods. The IDF deployed troops to affected areas and military vehicles were used for the rescue effort.
In one instance, IDF soldiers helped evacuate students from a flooded school in Nahariya.
Commander of the Galilee Division Brigadier General Shlomi Binder said on Wednesday that the IDF had allocated many soldiers to the relief efforts in Nahariya, and will continue to do so anywhere they are needed.
“This is part of our responsibility to the people of the north, and we will continue to help as needed,” he said.
Minister of Public Security and Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan on Thursday morning said that he would hold an assessment meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the heads of the rescue organizations to prepare for the continued extreme weather.
“Today, it is especially important to heed the police and fire department instructions and not take unnecessary risks,” he told Israel’s citizens.
The stormy weather on Wednesday came only two days after another deadly storm which killed a man and a woman who were trapped in an elevator in their basement in Tel Aviv, as well as a 47-year-old and a 72-year-old who drowned in the floods.
The stormy weather hit Israel’s north especially hard, with many rivers reaching record high flow rates.
The Jordan River reached a flow rate of 136 cubic meters per second, Nahal Elon has reached 100 cubic meters per second and the Kishon River reached its record rate, at 215 cubic meters per second.
The heavy rain in Israel’s north also significantly contributed to the Sea of Galilee, which rose by 23 cm from Wednesday to Thursday, according to the Israel Water Authority.
Since the beginning of the winter, the Sea of Galilee rose by 80 cm.
The current water level is at -211.10 meters under sea level, 2.3 meters lower than the height at which the Sea of Galilee is considered full.
Israel’s Mount Hermon and the northern Golan Hights were blanketed by snow, with nearly half a meter of snow accumulating at the bottom of the Hermon ski lift.