Passengers wait in line at Ben Gurion
Passengers wait in line at Ben GurionHezki Baruch

Workers at Israel’s largest airport announced Tuesday afternoon plans to shut down operations for incoming and outgoing air traffic as part of a general strike.

A union representing Israel Airport Authority workers declared a strike at Ben Gurion Airport for this coming Sabbath, shutting down all operations from Friday evening until Saturday night.

The union declared the strike in response to plans by the Interior Ministry to levy property taxes on the IAA. Interior Minister Aryeh Deri recently appointed a committee to deal with the matter, in the hopes of raising additional funds from the IAA for the benefit of surrounding towns.

If the threat to strike over the Sabbath is carried out, it would affect nearly 180 flights and 28,000 passengers.

But union chief Pinchas Idan blamed the Interior Ministry for the planned strike, saying that it was placing the IAA in an impossible situation.

“This is an attempt to create facts on the ground and a political power play in the year that local elections [are scheduled], with the goal of raising money from the IAA in order to solve local problems facing towns in the surrounding area, and all this before a court hearing has been held on the issue. We call on the Interior Minister and to the committee formed to deal with the tax issue to wait until the court hearing, and not to make any attempts at establishing facts on the ground.”

A spokesperson from the Interior Ministry Idan’s claims and decried the planned strike.

“The Interior Ministry rejects any attempt to influence the [legally] normative and orderly efforts of the…committee. The hearings will continue to be held as planned, and the committee’s findings with regards to Ben Gurion Airport will be presented to the minister as planned.”