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The banks hired 1,600 new employees in July, despite their efficiency plans. In the past year, hundreds of workers have left the banks voluntarily with large severance packages or chosen early retirement, also with improved benefits.

In July, 8,300 mew workers joined the services and trade sector - a 0.7 percent increase, according to figures from the Chambers of Commerce. Communications and transportation jobs grew 1.7 percent in July, by 2,300 positions.

The only sector of the economy that lost jobs in July was business services, such as law or accounting offices, with a 0.8 percent drop - 3,500 positions. It was the first loss for the sector after several months of growth.

Meanwhile, Israel Discount Bank employees ended their work sanctions yesterday after Tel Aviv District Labor Court Judge Netta Roth intervened. Yesterday, the workers closed 25 bank branches.

The union agreed to halt sanctions for three weeks, on condition that management conduct intensive negotiations with them over salary increases.

It was agreed that negotiations would resume today, and that the sides will report to the court on their progress on November 10.