This week, the Middle East became a winter wonderland. It snowed in Egypt today for the first time in over a 100 years, and earlier this week parts of Israel got blanketed in a winter storm, the likes of which it hadn’t seen in at least 50 years, according to The Weather Channel.
In Jerusalem, schools and offices were closed and public transportation was briefly suspended after heavy snowfall on Thursday, while a storm named Alexa continues sweeping across Syria and Lebanon, bringing with it high winds and freezing temperatures.
The cold weather has been particularly difficult for Syrian refugees, many of whom are living in tent camps and are unprepared for freezing temparatures. Two children reportely froze to death in Syria, Euronews reported.
These Reuters photos how people in the Middle East reacted to the unexpected snow.
Men built a snowman in front of the Dome of the Rock, a sacred spot in Jerusalem’s Old City.
Orthodox Jewish men roll a snowball at a park in Jerusalem.
An Orthodox Jewish man builds a snowman in Jerusalem.
Public transport was briefly suspended in Jerusalem and parts of the occupied West Bank after heavy snowfall on Dec. 12, 2013.
People improvised cold-weather gear in Jerusalem’s Old City.
Schools and offices in Jerusalem and parts of the occupied West Bank were closed after heavy snowfall on Dec. 12, 2013.
For some, the snow was a welcome surprise.
Free Syrian Army fighters play with snow in Raqqa, eastern Syria.
Free Syrian Army fighters throw snow in Khan Tuman, Aleppo.
Syrian refugees play with snow in a tented settlement a few kilometers from the border in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. Camps like this one have been particularly hard-hit by the cold weather.
Khalid bin al Walid Mosque in Homs, Syria.
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