Israelis have expressed anger following the publication of a story on Ynet that the Supermarket Bill being spearheaded by Interior Minister and Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri will include convenience stores in gas stations.
If the bill passes it will give Deri the power to nullify municipal bylaws and he will be authorized to shut down supermarkets, mini local stores and convenience stores.
Workers at the convenience stores situated at gas stations in the Kiryat Shmona area say that the majority of employment in stores takes place at the end of the week, both because of the many tourists and because of the closure of shops and regular businesses. The higher salaries on Shabbat also encourage the youth, especially students, to work weekend shifts.
“I am opposed to the bill. Even though we have a family here that observes Shabbat, you can’t force people to do something," said Lee Dean from the Elifelet moshav in the Upper Galilee.
“When I am stuck without something at the end of the week I go to these shops and so do the tourists. The economic situation in the area is anyway terrible and this will only cause an even worse situation,” he predicted.
Sa’ir Saba’en from Majd al-Krum in the same area stopped at the Paz-Yellow gas station in Kiryat Shmona, and when asked by Ynet reporters also expressed disdain of the bill.
“I am Muslim so obviously shutting down shows on Shabbat is not significant for me from a religious point of view. The problem is a social and economic one,” he explained. “I also travel at the end of the week, there are a lot of tourists and travelers and it affects me if there is nowhere to shop. Obviously it also affects business owners, who rely on the weekend for most of their income.”
Residents of Tel Aviv were also angered by the prospect of shutting down shops, albeit not necessarily in their city.
“It is extremely sad that they interfere with our lives,” complained Avi from Tel Aviv. “They could have done this in Bnei Brak and closed all the gas stations and even put a fence up so no one bothers them. But here? What are they thinking? If we are going to Haredi extremes then lets make a rabbi the prime minister.”
In Be'er Sheva, too, residents found it difficult to understand the inclusion of convenience stores in the bill.
"This will cause actual harm to me. Everything that can be open on Shabbat must be open. Not everyone sits at home on Shabbat. There is no reason to close stores on Shabbat," said Ziva, a resident of the Negev.
According to Deri, however, he has no intention of changing the status quo, attacking Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party for their alleged willful ignorance of the bill. “In Yesh Atid it seems that they have not read the bill and if it is possible to incite, then why not? Therefore, I will summarize so you understand.” Deri said.
“The law currently in place does not change the situation that has existed to the present day. It only defends what already exists,” he claimed. “Moreover, I am extremely impressed with your sincere concern for the desecration of Shabbat and the division of the nation. It really touches my heart,” he quipped.
Asaf Zagrizak, Ahiya Raved, Ilana Curiel and Gilad Morag contributed to this report.