The protest powder keg has exploded, and companies across every sector of the Israeli economy have stepped forward and announced their participation in the nation-wide strike over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's dismissal Sunday night of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant for his call to freeze the judicial overhaul legislation.
Leading hi-tech companies, banks, supermarket chains, malls and countless other sectors are announcing their participation in the wildfire strike that is rapidly encompassing the entire Israeli economy following the Histadrut’s call for a general strike on Monday morning.
Flights leaving Ben Gurion Airport have been grounded as airport workers join the strike, preventing departures.
In response to this, the Tourism Ministry has opened a virtual emergency center for use by the 90,000 tourists currently in Israel. The center will operate 24/7 in English and Hebrew, on various platforms: on the phone, on Facebook and on WhatsApp and will be manned by ministry employees who are well-versed in providing solutions for tourists.
Hi-tech says “That’s enough”
Leading Israeli tech companies including Monday.com, Wix, Natural Intelligence, Lemonade and Fiverr have joined the strike, as well as several VC firms including Pitango and Team8; they are only a few of the dozens of companies that have announced that they will be participating.
“We will never agree to be a non-Jewish and democratic state in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, and with broad agreement,” said Pitango in a statement.
Venture capital fund Amiti Ventures joined the strike, according to Ben Rabinovitch, founder and director of the fund. "We support democracy and fully support the Histadrut's decision to strike. At the same time, we encourage and all employees should be encouraged to express their personal opinions and we are tolerant of a variety of opinions,” Rabinovitch said.
“Following the long weeks in which Atera takes an active part in the protest, we have decided to strike today, and we will continue as long as we have to,” said Gil Pekelman, co-founder and CEO of Atera. “We call on all hi-tech companies to join the strike in the economy led by the Histadrut, and to stand shoulder to shoulder with our brothers at this historic and important moment in our nation's history.”
Generative AI platform developer D-ID made a statement that it “encourages and supports employees who wish to express their protest and their voice and have been doing so during the last few weeks.”
The company announced that it was preparing for an organized transportation for the benefit of employees who wish to join the protest in Jerusalem, and that it will allow its employees to participate in protests without deducting vacation days.
Also inviting employees to travel together to Jerusalem to protest was observability platform developer Aporia.
“In light of the increasing protest and today's events, the aporia company has decided not to stand by and supports and stands behind the workers who wish to express their protest and voice. In the next hour we will go to Jerusalem together with everyone who wishes to do so, and participate together in the justified protest planned in Jerusalem. Meanwhile, the company allows its employees to participate in protests without deducting vacation days,” said CEO and co-founder Liran Hasson.
The food-tech company Simpliigood also allowed employees to participate in protests without deducting vacation days. “In light of the increasing protest and today's events, we decided not to stand by, the company supports and stands behind the employees who wish to express their protest and voice in the planned demonstrations,” said CEO Lior Shalu.
Lior Wilchinsky and Rami Gabbai, the founders of fintech firm morning made the following statement: "We at Morning respect each and every one of our employees, regardless of their political views and opinions regarding the current situation in the country, and believe that each and every one should act according to the dictates of their conscience. In order to support the choice of some employees to participate in the protest events, we informed customers that we will provide limited support throughout the day compared to normal. Of course, in urgent cases we will try to provide an immediate response. We feel and believe that we have the abilities and responsibility to influence and change!''
Malls make their mark
Azrieli Group and Amot, the organizations behind two of the nation’s leading mall chains, announced that they would be closing their malls in protest as of 12:00 on Monday, along with mall chains Melisron and Ofer.
“We must not stand by when Israel is burning. We as the heads of the economy join the efforts of the Histadrut and announce the closing of the shopping malls today starting at 12:00. The legislation that tears and divides the people must be stopped. We are all one people,” said Azrieli Group chairman Dana Azrieli.
In a public statement, Amot wrote that only pharmacies and grocery stores would be accessible. “Unity, dialogue and broad agreements are the order of the hour,” the company said in a statement.
Everyone else is in on it, too
Bank Hapoalim announced that it would cease branch operations as of 1:00pm on Monday, along with Isracard, which stated that all of its employees would strike at the same time.
In a letter issued to employees, Shufersal Group CEO Uri Waterman announced that while the leading supermarket chain would keep all chain branches and online services “fully operational,” it would allow employees working in its headquarters to join the protests.
“We advocate the principles of democracy, equality and freedom of expression as reflected in the Declaration of Independence,” Waterman wrote. “We allow headquarters employees to go out at noon and express solidarity in your own way as you see fit. This will be considered a paid working day. We ask that even in these challenging days, we will maintain kindness and mutual respect as always.”
Leading Israeli pharmaceutical company Teva issued a statement to employees, allowing them to participate in the ongoing protests.
“The last few weeks, and even more so the last day, have brought Israel towards a polarization and division that Israeli society has never known and we all share a huge concern,” it read.
“We believe that democracy is a cornerstone and foundation for the existence, future and prosperity of the State of Israel. Our achievements as a country in the political, economic and social aspect are deeply rooted in the foundations of governance and its balances… In a democratic country, the right to express a position and act, with mutual respect and consideration for the other, is a supreme value,” it continued.
“In light of the development of the events in the last few hours and the strike in the economy, we believe that the company's employees should act according to the dictates of their conscience and judgment, with the coordination and approval of the managers of the units, in a way that, on the one hand, will not harm their rights, and on the other hand, will not harm Teva's ability to continue operating in a regular manner for the sake of its patients,” it read.