JERUSALEM, Israel -- The Middle East was still recovering Monday from a monster storm that blanketed much of the region in snow.
The worst blizzard to hit Israel and the region in more than 50 years dumped nearly 20 inches of snow in Jerusalem over three days starting last Thursday.
"It's unbelievable. It's nice," one Jerusalemite told CBN News. "We have drought. We need water. So it's very important to have snow and water."
Army and other emergency services rescued thousands of travelers stranded in their vehicles along the two main routes to Jerusalem. More than 35,000 Israeli homes were also without power -- some for days.
But for many Jerusalemites, the snow made the days fun, without work or school -- building snowmen, having snowball fights, or simply enjoying a walk in the winter wonderland.
"I never thought I'd have a snowball fight in the Old City," one man in the Jewish Quarter said on camera just before getting hit by a snowball. "There you go," he added.
"It's fun and you miss school and everything," one child said. "You can make 'snowmans' and igloos."
Monday was the fourth day schools were closed in Jerusalem and elsewhere in Israel as lingering snow turned to ice on highways. Piles of snow and downed trees were everywhere.
When it snows in Jerusalem, the snow usually lasts for a day or two. But there were many cars stuck in snow, abandoned and stranded on the city's side streets for nearly five days.
In Gaza, thousands of residents were evacuated from their homes because of flooding. Israel allowed 450,000 liters of diesel fuel, paid for by Qatar, into the Gaza Strip on Sunday, allowing Gaza's only power station to resume operations.
The hardest hit by the storm were some of the more than 2 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, and elsewhere in the region. Many of them are living in tent cities.
In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked security and rescue forces for saving many lives.
"The State of Israel is coping very well with the great storm," Netanyahu said at the weekly cabinet meeting. "I believe that we performed better than advanced countries that are hit by such storms more frequently or countries that suffer [from] such storms, and we see the results," he added.
Despite the dangers, many enjoyed the wonder of seeing the city of Jerusalem shrouded in what the Bible calls "the treasuries of snow" (Job 38:22).