Ashdod municipality windows smashed over Shabbat fines

Windows of Collection and Welfare Department smashed after businesses receive Shabbat fines. Mayor: 'Incitement leads to violence.'

Mordechai Sones ,

Anti-Shabbat law enforcement demonstration in Ashdod
Anti-Shabbat law enforcement demonstration in Ashdod
Flash 90

Ashdod municipality workers arriving to work this morning discovered the windows of the Collection and Welfare Department were smashed and copious amounts of dirt strewn about. The vandalism was in response to tickets distributed to businesses operating on Shabbat in the city.

Mayor Yehiel Lasry responded that incitement leads to violence: "Unfortunately, we started the morning in the city of Ashdod with these scenes of vandalism. And it's very sad."

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. Some residents have responded angrily in protest of] the decision.

Lasry commented on the developing Shabbat regulations. "Shabbat regulations are crystallizing; it requires patience. Yes, patience. I promised a solution, and we're getting there."

At the same time, the mayor clarified that the solution would be consistent with the law. "There are a few more challenges to overcome along the way, due to the court ruling that forced Ashdod to act. Therefore, the warnings and penalties given to some businesses on Shabbat (beyond the fact that this enforcement is not new) are an essential stage in the plan being formulated for unity in Ashdod, mainly due to the need, at the end of the day, to withstand the test of the court."

"We're all committed to the law. I won't be dragged into populism and incitement that harms Ashdod's image, and unfortunately, as you can see, has already led to deeds and a case of vandalism. Ashdod will emerge from this crisis stronger - as a shining example and a role model - everything depends on us. On you and me. Patience," wrote Lasry.

Israel's original "status quo agreement" on the place of religion in the public sphere of the Jewish State included having shops remain closed on the Jewish Day of Rest and no pubic transportation except in certain areas. However, when kibbutzim built shopping malls on their property and kept them open on the Shabbat, status quo observance weakened in municipal areas as store owners feared the unfair competition. The new law seeks to reverse the situation in municpalities, but things have gone so far that much of the public considers the "status quo" to refer to allowing the stores to remain open for business on the Shabbat.