Buses Rolled Freely on Shabbat, Report Charges

Mass violations of the Sabbath by bus drivers took place, with the blessing of government officials, a newspaper charged.

Yaakov Levi ,

Egged Bus (archive)
Egged Bus (archive)
Israel news photo: Egged

The Transport Ministry and the country's bus companies took advantage of the first full day of summer time (daylight savnigs time) in Israel to allow for mass violations of the Sabbath, by giving permits to drivers to begin their routes before sundown Saturday, a haredi newspaper charged Sunday. The Hapeles newspaper said that the permits were given to drivers on inter-city routes, as well as on routes within cities that did not cover religious neigborhoods.

Such permits, according to the law, are to be given out sparingly, only in the case of a national emergency or similar cataclysmic situation, the newspaper said. Among the cities where buses were given permits to run were Akko, Crmiel, Tzefat, Netanya, Herzliya, Shlomi, Lod, Afula, Beesheva, Ofakim, and others.

On Thursday, the Movement for a Jewish State filed a complaint with the Economy Ministry over mass violations of regulations against public transportation on Shabbat. According to the group, bus drivers regularly begin driving – either in preparation for an evening shift, or actual driving of their routes – before Shabbat is over. With summer time (daylight savings time) coming into effect Thursday night in Israel, and the subsequent later exit of Shabbat, the problem will only get worse during the spring and summer months, the group said.

Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Uri Paz, an attorney who works with the group, said that while bus company regulations were clear – that drivers are not to turn on the ignition in their vehicles until a half hour after Shabbat, and that they arrive at their last stop a half hour before Shabbat – many drivers were not following the rules, and the companies were not enforcing them. Just a week earlier, he said, at least 60 drivers violated either one or both of the rules.