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Israel falls back to end daylight savings time

Seasonal time transition has become a bone of contention between ultra-Orthodox and secular Israelis

Daylight savings time (clock image via Shutterstock)
Daylight savings time (clock image via Shutterstock)

Israel rolled back their clocks an hour to standard time, at 2 a.m. on Sunday morning, three weeks later than was initially planned. The decision to extend daylight savings time by an additional three weeks was made by Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar.

On October 6, many Israelis who fought for years to have daylight savings time substantially extended found that their phones and computers ignored new state directives and sent their clocks an hour back overnight.

The thorny issue of when and how to implement daylight saving time was the focus of a special committee appointed by Sa’ar (Likud) in April.

Headed by Shmuel Abuav, a former Construction Ministry director general and head of the Or Yarok (“Green Light” in Hebrew) road safety organization, the committee examined the current daylight saving time policy and its impact on road safety, energy consumption and the economy.

“The additional hour of daylight for the citizens of Israel has a positive influence on every one of the central aspects of life,” Sa’ar said, adding that he would immediately begin working on getting government and Knesset approval for the legislation.

Daylight saving time went into effect across Israel on Friday, March 29, turning 2 a.m. into 3 a.m.

In November, the Knesset passed legislation extending daylight savings time until the first Sunday after October 1. Before that, standard time would begin the Sunday morning before Yom Kippur, so that the day’s fast, which is pegged to nightfall, would end an hour earlier.

Because the Hebrew calendar is lunar, Yom Kippur can fall between mid-September and mid-October, which used to mean that Israelis returned to standard time as much as a month and a half before most other countries, where daylight savings time ends on November 1.

As a result, the issue of the seasonal time transition became contentious among Israelis, and was caught up in political tensions between religious and secular politicians.

Religious parties generally pushed for the early time change to ease the Yom Kippur fast, and some secular activists protested that the change was unnecessarily inconvenient and expensive. They pointed to a relatively early loss of daylight hours and a resultant rise in electricity bills as well as car accidents as people who would otherwise drive home from work in daylight were forced to drive in darkness.

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