From getting a burger to boarding a plane, Israelis were facing major disruptions to daily life on Monday after a general strike was called over the government’s judicial reform initiative.
The announcement Monday morning of a worker walkout by the Histadrut labor federation set off a cascade of similar announcements, including the grounding of planes at Ben-Gurion Airport.
“I ordered the immediate halt of takeoffs at the airport,” Israel Airports Authority workers committee chairman Pinchas Idan said.
The Allenby Bridge crossing to Jordan was also closed Monday afternoon due to a walkout by Israel Customs Directorate staff.
Histadrut chairman Arnon Bar-David said at a press conference that “there is a limit to how much you can stand back. I tried to avoid a strike and a shutdown, but it is impossible to stay in the face of this discrimination and polarization.”
Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, the country’s largest hospital, said it would join the general strike, and the Israel Medical Association announced the shutdown of the health system. On Monday afternoon, the Israeli Nurses Union announced participation in the work stoppage.
McDonald’s announced it would join the labor action, saying it would close its restaurants across the country starting at noon. The largest burger chain in Israel, McDonald’s operates more than 200 branches nationwide, both kosher and non-kosher.
The Big and Azrieli shopping mall chains also announced they were joining the strike, closing their malls across the country.
The Union of Local Authorities, Union of Lawyers in the Civil Service and Israel Bar Association also said that they were joining the strike.
Protest leaders from the high-tech sector also announced that they were walking out, urging colleagues to join a mass demonstration outside of the Knesset in Jerusalem scheduled for the afternoon.
A coalition of Israeli universities on Sunday had already announced a general strike on Monday to protest the judicial reform and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s firing of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant following a televised address he made calling for a pause in the legislative process.
“We, the heads of Israel’s research universities, presidents, rectors and management, will stop studies in all of Israel’s research universities starting tomorrow morning, amid the continuation of the legislative process that undermines the foundations of Israeli democracy and endangers its continued existence,” the universities said in a statement.
“We call on the prime minister and the members of the coalition to stop the legislation immediately, and immediately enter talks in order to reach an agreed and broad outline.”
Netanyahu was expected to announce a temporary halt to the judicial reform legislative process on Monday.