Israel’s day of rest came four days early this year.
The country’s 400,000 public sector workers, including employees of religious councils, went on strike to protest delayed payment of wages. The nationwide strike was called on Tuesday, four days before Yom Kippur. The third strike called by the Histadrut labor federation in the last year, it shut down government offices and hospitals, the stock exchange and banks, railways and sea ports, ambulance services and fire departments, mail delivery and utilities.
“Israel has ceased to be a place to do business,” said Oded Tyrah, head of Israel’s Manufacturers Association, estimating that the strike would cost the economy more than $214 million a day.
Ben-Gurion Airport also closed — this mother and daughter rest at the check-in counter of a nearly empty terminal.
The participation of religious council workers meant that marriage licenses and kashrut certificates were not issued, and hours of burials were curtailed. Members of chevra kadisha burial societies conducted burials in larger cities, and the ZAKA disaster victims identification organization said its volunteers would also assist.
The strike is seen as the latest scuffle between the government, which is trying to implement cost-cutting free market reforms, and unions that seek to prevent job losses caused by spending cuts.