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Strikes Black out News Broadcasts, but No Serious Disruptions Reported

Israel appeared to be weathering a strike by some 130,000 members of its work force Thursday without incidents or serious disruptions.

The walkout, mainly by public sector employees, including academicians, broadcasters and engineers, began at midnight and is to end at 6 a.m. Friday. It has been billed a “warning strike” by the organizing unions to protest delays in negotiating new wage and benefit contracts.

As of midday Thursday, the effects were minimal. Radio and Radio and television were blacked out, and even the promised hourly news bulletins were missing. But Israelis could tune into the army radio station for news, music and entertainment. Israel Radio continued to broadcast foreign news on its overseas short-wave band.

All universities and other institutions of higher learning were shut down for the 36-hour duration of the strike. But schools remained open.

Disruption of flight schedules at Ben-Gurion Airport was less serious than expected. Delays of no more than a half hour were experienced, although air-traffic controllers said they would handle only incoming flights and not departures.

There was potentially serious trouble, however, from the absence of repair and maintenance workers at the airports, aviation industries, telephone exchanges and the Israel Electric Corp. But no serious breakdowns were reported during the day.

Although meteorologists were on strike, Israelis had only to go out of doors to see that the weather was fine.

Work sanctions continued, meanwhile, at the government and Histadrut hospitals, where medical and non-medical employees are locked in an ongoing dispute with the Finance Ministry on wage-related issues.

Chaos in the health care system has been the norm for months, and Israelis appear to be taking it in stride, as they were Thursday’s general strike.

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