The deputy prime minister and minister of industry, trade and employment, Eli Yishai (Shas), opposes the launch of the new book in the "Harry Potter" series on Friday night. Yishai said he intends to issue indictments and impose fines on local distributors of the book who violate the Hours of Work and Rest Law.
Yishai called on book stores not to sell the book on Shabbat, and instead to begin selling it Friday morning or postpone its sale until after the Sabbath.
The Steimatzky chain is planning a major launch for the book this Friday night at the Tel Aviv port. At the rival Tsomet Sfarim chain, the book will be launched at a nighttime event at the Ga'ash branch and will go on sale at other branches Saturday morning.
Yishai said Tuesday that "there must be a limit to the desire to be like other nations."
MK Avraham Ravitz (United Torah Judaism) also criticized the planned sale of books on Shabbat.
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," which is the seventh and final installment in the series written by J.K. Rowling, will be launched simultaneously around the world on July 21, at 02:01 A.M. Israel time.
A statement from Steimatzky said in response: "Under the agreement with the publisher abroad, the chain is obligated to launch the book in Israel simultaneous to its launch throughout the world."
Worldwide, the Potter books have sold more than 325 million copies, have been translated into at least 64 languages, and have been spun off into a hit movie series.
The book's author, J.K. Rowling, has indicated that two characters die in the new book, leading to speculation that one of them might be Harry himself.