A severe sandstorm struck Israel this week for the second time in two years, disrupting air travel, increasing air pollution and forcing persons with respiratory problems to remain indoors.

Because of a depression over the eastern Mediterranean, heavy winds and dust carried to Israel from North Africa. “High concentrations of air pollution, above air quality standards” caused a “public health concern,” Dr. Levona Cordoba of the Environmental Protection Ministry said in a statement. “Therefore we recommend that vulnerable populations, including people with heart and/or lung disease, the elderly, children and pregnant women, avoid strenuous physical exercise.”

Skies turned a dusty hue of pink. Flash floods in low-lying areas, because of rainfall, as well as fog, were predicted.

Domestic airports in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Eilat cancelled flights or rerouted landings to Ben-Gurion Airport in Lod.

The sandstorms were strongest along the coast, where a painter in Netanya, inset, worked on a landscape, and the city’s coastal buildings, inset, were barely visible.

steve@jewishweek.org