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Sacrilege! Israel Shutting Down Many Online Services on Holy Days

Israel is apparently greatly angering its secular citizens with a new push, led by the ultra-Orthodox minority parties, to prevent many public services from being delivered online during holy days and on the Jewish Sabbath. While the parties in power argue that this Internet blackout merely extends the current practice of closing down government offices on the Sabbath, the blanket restriction on online payments to many government agencies that it imposes represents a major change from the 24/7 availability that preceded it.


Israeli government offices that provide a wide array of public services are pulling the plug on online payments on the Jewish Sabbath and holidays, creating a potential new source of friction between the religious and secular in the Jewish state.

Ultra-Orthodox Cabinet ministers are leading the charge to enforce the religious prohibition on spending money on Jewish holy days. But for non-religious residents, tourists and foreign workers, the planned ban joins two leading ills of Israeli life — red tape and religious restrictions — in a marriage of inconvenience.

Currently, Israelis and the tens of thousands of foreign workers living here are able to renew their passports, extend their visas or pay hospital fees online 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But now, the interior, health and religious affairs ministries — all controlled by ultra-Orthodox parties — plan a holy day payment blackout.

Sites controlled by these three ministries will remain online during these blackout periods, but will not allow online payments. Still sounds like a pain.

(Raw Story [AP] via J-Walk)

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