Israel sprang ahead in the early hours of Friday morning, with clocks moving forward one hour as daylight saving time came into effect.
The Palestinian Authority will switch a day later. The US has already switched to daylight saving time nearly two weeks ago, while the EU moves its clocks next Sunday.
At 2 a.m. Israelis turned their clocks forward to 3 a.m., meaning most people will lose an hour of sleep. On the plus side they will gain an extra hour of sunshine in the evenings.
However, owners of smartphones did not have to stay up to reset their clocks, with Apple, Samsung and many other major brands providing an automatic service, alongside Israel’s major phone carriers such as Pelephone, Partner and Cellcom.
Watches, clocks and a variety of appliances (and some much older phones) still have to be changed manually.
In 2013, the Knesset passed legislation extending daylight savings time from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October. Before that, daylight savings would end the Saturday night before Yom Kippur, so that the day’s fast, which is pegged to nightfall, would seem to end an hour earlier.
Because the Hebrew calendar is a lunar one corrected via extra leap-year months to the solar cycle, Yom Kippur can fall anywhere 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 usually ends around November 1.
As a result, the issue of the seasonal time transition became contentious among Israelis, and was caught up in political tensions between ultra-Orthodox parties and their secular counterparts.
Religious parties generally pushed for the early time change to ease the Yom Kippur fast, which lasts from sundown to sundown, 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 a greater number of car accidents as people who would otherwise drive home from work in daylight were doing so in darkness.