Israeli truckers plan to block nation's roads in fuel protest
Israeli truckers are planning to protest fuel price hikes on Tuesday, with threats to block major highways and disrupt fuel supplies after similar action crippled much of Europe.
Haulers and Drivers Council chairman Gabi Ben Harush told Israeli radio that truck drivers had won police approval to stage a go-slow demonstration along roads linking the northern port city of Haifa and the southern coastal town of Ashdod.
The radio said hundreds of trucks would be driving along the roads at up to 40 kilometres (25 miles) an hour.The Haaretz newspaper said driving instructors and drivers of rubbish (Am: garbage) trucks and cement mixers were also expected to join in the protest, which follows a rise in diesel announced this week of more than 13 percent.
The head of the police force national traffic unit, Yaakov Ganot, had warned that police would use a "hard hand" against truck drivers who attempt to close down the nations roadways.
"Police will be instructed to do whatever necessary to keep the roads open and truck drivers who knowingly violate the law will be treated harshly by police and the judicial system," he was quoted as saying in the media.
Vehicle operators complain that they cannot absorb price rises from the past two years, saying fuel costs now account for more than 40 percent of haulage costs.
Israel's Manufacturers Association said the increase in fuel prices over the past year alone have cost the industry some 325 million dollars.
But press reports say Israeli prices were among the lowest in the world, with diesel at around 60 cents a litre (16 cents a gallon), less than half the prices in Europe. Truckers are demanding that the government subsidize their fuel costs in the same way it subsidizes the operations of the public bus services, but Finance Minister Avraham Shohat has said there was no "logical connection" between the two.—AFP.
©--Agence France Presse.
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)
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