Photo Credit: Miriam Alster / Flash 90
Jerusalemites waiting to board a bus at a bus stop in the center of Jerusalem. (archive)

Israel’s Transportation Ministry has announced a number of additional bus lines that stop service on Friday before the Sabbath will cease their operations earlier in the day.

The ministry said the move is a public gesture to the haredi religious sector, making it clear that the state is working to avoid any desecration of the holy Sabbath.

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It appears it is more of a cosmetic change and one that is likely to cause more of an inconvenience to everyone, than anything else.

Blue and White faction leader Benny Gantz slammed the decision, however, complaining, “The State of Israel is a Jewish state, but not a halachic state. We will win [in the March 2nd elections,” he said, “and we will rectify this. Everyone can live here in their own way,” Gantz promised.

The Transportation Ministry issued a statement, meanwhile, saying the move was made to demonstrate respect to the needs of the religious public wherever possible but without damaging the needs of the majority secular public.

However, Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich said that his ministry has canceled bus services that begin operating before the end of the Sabbath, noting, “There’s a status quo on Shabbat, and it’s not changing.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.