Yerushalayim Municipality to Again Fine Stores That Operate on Shabbos

YERUSHALAYIM -
Malcha Mall
Malcha Mall in Yerushalayim. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90, File)

The Yerusahalyim Municipality is set to once again issue fines to stores that operate on Shabbos, a report on Hadashot News said. The city has issued fines in the past, but stores that were operating on Shabbos challenged those fines in court. The court erased the petitions and canceled the fines, and sent both sides to the negotiating table to work out a deal.

Meanwhile, several years have passed, and more stores are open than ever, especially in the center of the city. The Municipality, the report quoted officials as saying, will issue tickets to stores open in that area, where there is a large religious population, and dozens of shuls and yeshivos are located along the route of the stores to be targeted. City officials accused attorney Yossi Habilio, a long-time anti-religious activist who is set to run for the office of mayor, of presenting an inaccurate picture to the court in the previous round of fines and lawsuits, when he claimed that the area in question was not religious, and that there were only five synagogues in the affected area, not the dozens that are actually located there.

On Monday, the mayors of Herzliya, Givatayim, Holon, Rishon LeTzion and Modi’in threatened to sue the Interior Ministry in a High Court petition over the ongoing refusal of the Ministry to authorize the opening of businesses on Shabbos. A report on Reshet Bet said that in recent weeks all five cities have presented requests to Interior Minister Rabbi Aryeh Deri requesting that he approve the openings – and that he has refused each one.

The recently passed Supermarkets Law gives Rabbi Deri the right to do that. Under the law, Rabbi Deri must approve the opening of stores on Shabbos, and permits are to be given only to stores that are required for the benefit of residents, such as pharmacies and supermarkets. In practice, the Ministry has yet to approve any openings. In response, the cities legislated measures to bypass the Supermarkets Law, and the Ministry responded by canceling the laws – also within the power of the Interior Minister, as prescribed by the Supermarkets Law.