The Israeli Airports Authority said flights out of the main international airports have been grounded following the launch of a general strike.
The strike by the Histadrut umbrella group, which represents more than 700,000 workers in health, transit and banking, among many other fields, could paralyse large parts of Israel’s economy, which is already on shaky ground, ratcheting up the pressure on Netanyahu to suspend the overhaul.
The growing resistance to the plan came hours after tens of thousands of people burst into the streets around the country in a spontaneous show of anger at Netanyahu’s decision to fire his defense minister after he called for a pause to the overhaul. Chanting “the country is on fire,” they lit bonfires on Tel Aviv’s main highway, closing the throughway and many others throughout the country for hours.
The overhaul, driven by Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption, and his allies in Israel’s most right-wing government ever, has plunged Israel into one of its worst domestic crises. It has sparked a sustained and intensifying protest movement that has spread to nearly all sectors of society, including its military, where reservists have increasingly come out publicly to say they will not serve a country veering toward autocracy.
The crisis has further divided Israel, magnifying longstanding and intractable differences over the country’s character that have riven it since its establishment. The protesters say they are fighting for the very soul of the nation, seeing the overhaul as a direct challenge to Israel’s democratic ideals. The government has labelled them anarchists out to topple a democratically-elected leadership.
More to follow…