Ashdod residents protest closure of stores on Shabbat

Residents of Ashdod protest outside city hall against city's intention to shut down businesses which operate on Shabbat.

Ben Ariel ,

Protest against Supermarket Law (illustration)
Protest against Supermarket Law (illustration)
Kobi Richter/TPS

About 1,000 residents demonstrated on Saturday night outside city hall in Ashdod, protesting the city's intention to close businesses which operate on Shabbat.

The demonstrators carried signs reading "Who will save my house?" and "It's time to wake up - freedom is crumbling."

The protesters also called on Mayor Yechiel Lasri to resign.

Following the Knesset’s approval of the Supermarket Law, the city of Ashdod has stepped up its enforcement of a bylaw preventing businesses from opening on the day of rest. Residents have responded angrily and are protesting the decision.

Last week, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman paid a visit to Ashdod on Shabbat in an act of protest against the closure of shops in the city, raising the ire of the haredi parties.

Lasri responded this past week to the protests on his Facebook page and said he would continue to enforce the closure of stores on Shabbat.

"Unfortunately, the new developments in the city's life in recent years have led to harm to the nature of Shabbat in Ashdod,” he wrote.

"I am determined to restore order and bring the city back to the inner peace that characterizes it, under the compromises and agreements that were accepted in the past.”