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For twenty-four hours each year, all cars goes off the road all over Israel in celebration of Yom Kippur, also known as Day of Atonement - the holiest day of the year for the Jewish people. And it’s not just cars. All airplanes, trains and all public transportation stop moving. No music plays over the radio, television stops broadcasting, and all shops and businesses remain shut down. For one day, Israel resembles a scene from a post apocalypse movie.

Throughout the country, air pollution plummets a whopping 99% -  in some places nearly eliminating the presence of nitrogen oxides, a prominent contaminant in motor vehicle emissions. The air smells good, the visibility gets better and the distant roar of traffic is comfortably absent. Residents take advantage of this day and goes out for walks along the empty city streets. Some take out their bicycles, roller blades and skateboards. The dramatic decline of pollution on Yom Kippur indicates just how polluted the air is the rest of the year.

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© Amusing Planet, 2014.


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