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Israel crippled by general strike

Israel's largest trade union began a sweeping general strike today, shutting down the country's only international airport and all the ports.

The strike began after the Histadrut union failed to reach an agreement with the government on providing funds to regional councils that have been unable to pay their workers for months.

The issue has been a sore point between the Histadrut and the finance ministry for several years, with the government saying that poor planning and mismanagement by regional councils led them to near bankruptcy.

At Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport the lights were shut and all flights, incoming and outgoing, were cancelled. Throughout the country trains came to a halt, government ministries kept their doors shut, rubbish began piling up and the postal, phone and electric services stopped.

It was unclear how long the strike would last. In the past, general strikes in Israel have lasted for days, costing the market millions in losses.