Petition Demands State Enforce Laws to Close Businesses on Shabbos

(Gitty Golds)

The ministers responsible for enforcement of laws and regulations regarding businesses have fallen asleep at the wheel, a group representing small businesses said in a petition to the High Court – and it is demanding that Labor Minister Chaim Katz, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and State Attorney Avichai Mandelblit enforce the law against allowing businesses to operate on Shabbos.

In recent months, there have been more and more reports of businesses thumbing their noses at laws against operating on Shabbos. The Law on Work Hours and Rest is quite clear, the petition says, that businesses are not allowed to operate unless they get a special permit that validates their operation as “essential” or “lifesaving.” According to the law, violators of the law who operate businesses on Shabbos without such permits are fined, but in many cities the law is not enforced, the petition said.

While business owners who flaunt the law claim they are “standing up” for secular Israelis, the truth is that they are imposing their ideologies on the weakest Israelis. The petition brought by the “Coalition for an Equitable Shabbos” says that “the price for this wholesale violation of the law is paid for by the employees -usually low-paid – who have no choice but to report to their jobs against their will, and owners of small businesses who are forced to compete for customers on a day they would rather not work, or risk the elimination of their business by the competition.”

The situation could be changed if the ministers put the full weight of their office behind the effort to shut down businesses on Shabbos. “They have the tools necessary to bring effective change. The identities of the violators are well-known, and the sanctions for violations of the law are already on the books – unused. It would be possible to map out and prosecute all, or at least the vast majority, of the violators in a matter of weeks. But nothing is done, and the authorities stand silent in the face of the ongoing violations of the law. The authorities that are supposed to be upholding the law are simply doing nothing.”

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