Yitzhak Goldknopf
Yitzhak GoldknopfYonatan Sindel/FLASH90

United Torah Judaism (UTJ) chairman and Construction Minister Yitzhak Goldknopf responded to reports of construction work being carried out on a railway on Shabbat and demanded that Transportation Minister Miri Regev intervene to stop this work from being done on Shabbat.

In a letter to Regev, Goldknopf writes: "It has been brought to my attention that there is work on Shabbat at the Israel Railways that does not meet the definition of pikuach nefesh (work which is necessary because of a danger to human life) at all."

In the letter, which was also sent to the prime minister, economy minister, the deputy transportation minister, and the heads of the coalition parties, Goldknopf stated that this construction work on Shabbat violates the coalition agreements with the haredi parties. "As far as I understand, these works are the result of the agreements signed by previous governments. In the coalition agreements signed by the Likud parties and United Torah Judaism, it was agreed that these works will be stopped."

"We cannot put up with this situation, I ask for your urgent intervention in this matter," Goldknopf wrote to Regev.

Footage published online on Saturday morning, showing construction workers operating on railroad tracks in the middle of Shabbat, caused an uproar.

Journalist Tali Ben Ovadia, who published the footage on Twitter, wrote, "Israel Railways. Work on Shabbat. A full right-wing haredi government. Here’s hypocrisy for you."

Dozens of people commented on the tweet and said it could achieve the exact opposite of what Ben Ovadia intended, as it would cause haredi and religious politicians to demand the work on Shabbat be stopped.

Journalist Idan Eretz of Globes responded to her and wrote, "It is better to keep it quiet. The goal is to finish the infrastructure works as quickly as possible, there is no other way to deal with the rate of population growth in Israel."