Law Barring Stores From Selling Alcohol at Night Set to Pass Today

A bill banning the sale of alcohol at all-night kiosks and stores between 11 P.M. and 6 A.M. is expected to pass its final Knesset reading by a large majority today.

The bill, sponsored by the Public Security Ministry, allows the sale of alcohol during these hours only at establishments that serve it, like clubs, pubs and restaurants.

No alcohol will be sold during the night at kiosks, supermarkets and gas stations, and offenders will be liable to a minimum fine of NIS 9,000.

"This will significantly increase enforcement, which, like any medicine, is bitter - but it's the only cure," Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said yesterday.

The bill joins a string of laws against alcohol consumption by young people that have been legislated over the past year. They include a law that bans drinking or holding an alcoholic drink in public areas between 11 P.M. and 6 A.M., which also gives policemen and inspectors the right to dispose of the beverage on the spot; a law that bans selling or serving alcoholic drinks to minors in public places without the presence and agreement of an adult responsible for the minor; and a law stipulating that a person who sells alcoholic drinks to a minor will be deemed to have been aware that the buyer was a minor unless he proves that he saw an identification document proving the buyer was an adult.

"The bill is just, proportionate and appropriate, and we are happy it's on its way," said the director of the Israel Anti-Drug Authority, Yair Geller. "I don't see any problem with adults buying alcohol ahead of the time set by law. If an adult wants to have a drink, he can buy the alcohol before the time set by the law."

Geller said that Israeli teenagers consume large quantities of alcohol in unsupervised locations at night. "Alcohol consumption rises at night, and we are taking a step to limit this and lower consumption," he said. "If we see that doesn't work, we'll bring the hour down to 7 P.M."

Aharonovitch told Haaretz that "the first batch of alcohol-related laws passed during this Knesset session is another dramatic endeavor to reduce excessive consumption of alcohol by young people, as well as by adults ... But the law enforcement agencies shouldn't be left alone at the front. These laws should be accompanied by action in the fields of health, welfare and education."