After a bus driver was physically attacked a few days ago in the central city of Petah Tikva and a strike on Monday morning by fellow employees of the Dan bus company, the Histadrut labor federation and the union of bus drivers agreed that each driver would be equipped with tear gas and receive training on how to use it.
The decision was made at a meeting held between Histadrut Chairman Arnon Bar-David and the head of the transport workers union, Avi Edri.
Dan bus drivers in Petah Tikva went on strike for two hours on Monday, aiming to send a clear message to the government and the Transportation Ministry that they must take seriously violence directed at drivers.
The strike, during which the bus drivers held an emergency meeting attended by senior company officials, came after a passenger punched, kicked and tossed a trash bin at a bus driver Thursday night. The attacker was arrested Friday morning.
Also present at the meeting was female bus driver, Fania Shem-Tov. who was severely attacked on April 4 by a man she rebuked two weeks earlier for getting on the bus without a shirt. Shem-Tov has no returned to work since the attack.
She said that she was shocked when she saw the footage of the attack Thursday.
"I know the driver, so I phoned him to express my regret," she said. "He was terrified, unfortunately we come to serve the public and literally get slapped in the face."
After the meeting, Histadrut official Doron Ezra told Ynet that, "What happened in Petah Tikva is just the beginning. We have said that after the next attack all public transportation will go on strike. We demand that the Transportation Ministry protect the drivers."
The chair of the Dan bus drivers' union said that over the past two years, violence directed at bus drivers has been on the rise.
"In the last attack, we saw a man begging for the beatings to stop. Unfortunately, law enforcement and the government are doing nothing," he said.
"A young thug punches and mercilessly abuses ... Arie, a bus driver who has been with us for 40 years, who went through Israel's wars. A 65-year-old father and grandfather subjected to a beating and humiliation with no one to help him," said Dan officials.
"Whoever thinks we have not lost our minds and are a normal country should say so. This is appalling violence all over the country, we cannot go on like this. Why should civil servants risk their lives just to provide for their families?"