A heavy winter storm covered parts of the Middle East in snow, forcing the closure of all roads leading in and out of Jerusalem and sprinkling Israel's desert with a rare layer of white. Snow also fell in parts of the West Bank, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria as a cold front swept through the region.

The Holy Land's ancient sites were picture-postcard pretty. Snow capped the golden Dome of the Rock, a Muslim site in Jerusalem, dusted the Western Wall, a Jewish holy site, and blanketed the Nativity Church in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, where Christian tradition holds that Jesus was born.

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Children play in the snow in front of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem's Old CityAmmar Awad/Reuters
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Palestinian children walk in the snow in front of the Dome of the Rock mosque in the al-Aqsa mosque compound, JerusalemAhmad Gharabli/AFP
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Jewish men pray at the Western Wall as snow falls in the old city of JerusalemMenahem Kahana/AFP
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Israeli policemen play under snow-covered palm trees outside Jerusalem's old cityMenahem Kahana/AFP
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Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men walk near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City as snow fallsAhmad Gharabli/AFP
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A man poses for a picture in the snow overlooking the old city of JerusalemAhmad Gharabli/AFP
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Jerusalem's Old City following a snowstorm is seen from the Mount of OlivesRonen Zvulun/Reuters
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Snow covers the Garden of Gethsemane at the foot of the Mount of Olives in JerusalemRonen Zvulun/Reuters
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A crows flies over the snow-covered Mount of Olives cemetery outside Jerusalem's Old CityRonen Zvulun/Reuters
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The West Bank city of Bethlehem is blanketed with snowMusa al-Shaer/AFP
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Israeli soldiers walk down a snow-covered road in the West Bank town of HebronHazem Bader/AFP
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Israel's controversial separation barrier winds through the snow around JerusalemIlia Yefimovich/Getty Images
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Palestinian men pray in front of the snow-covered Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem's Old CityAmmar Awad/Reuters

Jerusalem municipality spokeswoman Brachie Sprung said 25cm (10 inches) of snow were dumped on the city, with more forecast for later in the day (20 February).

Jerusalem's light rail tram service was shut down, after two trams – making dry runs without passengers – were derailed overnight due to the heavy snow.

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Workers clear snow from the tracks of the light rail tram in JerusalemRonen Zvulun/Reuters
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Ultra-orthodox Jews walk in Jerusalem's Jaffa street, during snowfallMenahem Kahana/AFP
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An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man walks on a snow-covered street near Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighbourhoodRonen Zvulun/Reuters

The Syrian capital of Damascus and surrounding mountains were covered with snow, and in neighbouring Lebanon, the snowstorm closed most mountain roads, isolating dozens of villages.

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Snow blankets the area around the King Hussein mosque in the Jordanian capital AmmanKhalil Mazraawi/AFP
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Jordanian children pose with a snowman in AmmanKhalil Mazraawi/AFP
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Syrian refugees' tents are seen covered in snow in the Marj al-Khokh camp in Marjayoun, southern LebanonAli Dia/AFP
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Syrian refugee children play in the snow in a makeshift camp near Baalbek, LebanonAFP
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A pine forest is covered in near Jezzin, south LebanonAziz Taher/Reuters
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A poster of Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah is seen during a snow storm in Al-Rihan, south LebanonAziz Taher/Reuters