The normal start-of-the-week traffic jams have been more severe than usual Sunday morning, as a result of the limits on train service across the country. Police report severe traffic delays on route 1, connecting Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and both cities to Ben Gurion International Airport. Traffic on the coastal highway, Route 2, is unusually heavy from Caesarea to Tel Aviv. The inner highway, Route 4, is likewise jammed all the way from Holon to Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan, to Ra’ana in both directions. Route 5 connecting the coastal highway with Ariel in Samaria is also jammed. Route 20, which cuts through downtown Tel Aviv is jammed, too. Route 65, connecting Hadera with Afula through Umm al-Fahm in the Arab Triangle is also at a standstill.
On Saturday, the Israel Railways Corporation announced that essential infrastructure works that were not carried out on Shabbat by decree of Prime Minister Netanyahu would be done Sunday, thus paralyzing most of the train service until 7 PM. The stoppage came against the background of Haredi party resistance to carrying out work on Shabbat, and the apparent capitulation of the prime minister, but judging by what the Haredi press had to say Sunday morning, this was more a provocation by Transport Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) than an actual crisis.
The daily Yated Ne’eman cited MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) who accused Katz of acting out of revenge rather than caring for the services of his ministry. “The abominable conduct of Yisrael Katz proves that he does not care about danger to life, and not about the train, only about politics and his need to take revenge against the prime minister,” Gafni said.
Train service has been greatly curtailed Sunday morning. The IDF has added buses to transport soldiers returning to base from their Shabbat break. IDF representatives will guide confused soldier to the right buses. Israel’s inter-city bus companies have increased their active fleets Sunday to help passengers, which, of course, contributes to the traffic jams on the highways.
Leftwing parties Meretz and Labor called for protest rallies at the dark train stations Saturday night, but only a few hundred protesters showed up at the Tel Aviv rally, and only a few dozens at the Haifa event. The real fight over the train works and train service is being waged inside the Likud Party, between Prime Minister Netanyahu and his rebellious Transport Minister and Likud Secretariat Chairman Yisral Katz. (See: Coalition Chair: No Coming back from Netanyahu Vs. Transport Minister Crisis)JNi.Media