“The Israel Defense Forces has been hard at work helping the people of Israel and Gaza [to] endure the dangerous winter storm,” an IDF spokesperson declared in the wake of Alexa, which has been termed a “once-in-a-century storm.”

While Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights were blanketed in record-breaking snow, the coastal region, including the Gaza Strip, experienced massive rain and severe flooding.

The Kerem Shalom Border Crossing between Israel and Gaza is normally closed on Friday; Friday and Saturday are the days of the Israeli weekend. The crossing was opened on Friday, however, in order to supply gas for home heating. The IDF also transferred four water pumps due to heavy flooding in the Strip.

As of Saturday, the emergency aid included 1.2-million liters of gas, 800,000 liters of diesel fuel for transportation, 400,000 liters of diesel fuel for the Gaza power station and 200 tons of household gas.

“The additional activities at the Kerem Shalom Border Crossing, as well as the transfer of additional water pumps, are being made possible by the COGAT [Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories], the Ministry of Defense and the [electric] company Mekorot, in coordination with UN agencies,” the IDF stated.

COGAT also opened a shared Israeli-Palestinian situation room with the goal of assisting civilians in distress in Judea and Samaria.

“The IDF emphasizes that Israel will do everything that is necessary to assist the civilian populations in Gaza and in Judea and Samaria, with an emphasis on providing electricity to the power plant in Gaza,” according to the IDF.

During a regular patrol in Judea and Samaria on Friday morning, soldiers from the Nahal Brigade saw a Palestinian vehicle stuck in the snow and immediately went to help the driver out, the IDF Facebook page demonstrated with photographs and captions.

On Saturday morning, a woman from the Jewish community of Yitzhar, in Judea and Samaria, which was completely snowed in, went into labor. The IDF helped evacuate her to a hospital via helicopter.

Also on Saturday, soldiers went to Jerusalem, where thousands had no electricity, bringing power blankets, food and “especially a little warmth from the heart” to the elderly trapped in their homes.

“There are no words to describe what we felt when we saw her so happy and relieved that we came to bring help,” an IDF soldier said, after tending to an elderly woman. “It is in these moments that I understand the reason for my military service and how proud I am to be a soldier in the IDF.”

Despite the historic storm – the worst in more than a century – the IDF also continues to remain alert in its year-round mission to defend the State of Israel from hostilities.

“In northern Israel, IDF soldiers donned gloves and prepared to defend the northern border despite the snowstorms,” the IDF blog declared.

“As the winter intensifies, elite IDF climbers ensure safety in places that become inaccessible due to the white snow that covers the mountainous terrain,” the IDF Facebook page explained. “Snow plows are taken out of the garage in order to clear the Golan Heights. Soldiers also receive special equipment to cope with the cold, including a thermal suit, shoes and snow gloves. “We’ve even provided them with sunglasses. They are equipped like skiers, but above all they must be soldiers.”

Author: United with Israel Staff
Date: Dec. 15, 2013