Israel Internet Blackout: No Online Payments

By Gary Johnson - Sep 16, 2010

As the Jewish Sabbath and holidays approach, the Israeli government offices that provide a vast range of public services are stopping online payments. This could create another source of tension between the religious and secular in the Jewish state.

Amy Teibel of the Canadian Press is reporting that the campaign to enforce the religious prohibition on spending money during Jewish holy days, is being led by Ultra-Orthodox Cabinet ministers. This enforcement does cause problems for foreign workers, tourists, and non religious residents.

At the moment these groups of people can extend their visas or renew their passports, and pay hospitals bills online 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But all this could be stopped with the planned holy day spending blackout.

The offices of the government have historically been closed on the holy days, and a spokesman for the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party – Roi Lachmanovich – said “Now that the computer is the public face of the state”, “public service won’t be available on the Internet.”

The measures will further heighten tensions in the region, as there is a lot of resentment of the ultra-Orthodox, who make up less than 10% of the population. There has been no mention by officials when the blackout will start, but the Liberal Reform movement vowed to fight them.

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