Israel Railways was forced to stop all train traffic throughout Israel at 8 a.m. until further notice, due to the fact that nearly half of the traffic controllers in the National Railways Command "called in sick."
"This is a severe blow by the workers' union to Friday's train passengers, along with the many IDF soldiers who use the trains," the Israel Railways administration said in a statement on early Friday morning.
"In the last few hours, in an illegal and irresponsible organizational step, eight traffic controllers in the National Railways Command announced they were sick," the statement continued.
"This is a hundred percent increase in the amount of sick leave compared to a standard day. Therefore, for safety reasons which prevent the operation of rail traffic with less than four traffic controllers on a shift, the railway administration is forced to stop train traffic throughout the country in accordance with safety procedures at 8:00 a.m."
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz backed Israel Railway's decision to halt train traffic. Katz instructed the railway administration to appeal to the Labor Court and take disciplinary measures against the chairman of the committee.
"We will not allow anarchy on Israel Railways," Katz said. "The passengers of the train will not be held hostage by a group trying to extort benefits by force and bullying."