Do­mes­tic vi­o­lence protests across Is­rael

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY AL­LI­SON KAPLAN SOMMER

AS SOL­DIERS, MOTH­ERS, wives and sis­ters of those who have fallen in wars, Is­raeli women are all too fa­mil­iar with sud­den and tragic loss, cop­ing and and ac­cept­ing when such sac­ri­fices are nec­es­sary to de­fend their coun­try and pro­tect their fam­i­lies.

But their govern­ment’s im­po­tence and seem­ing in­dif­fer­ence over an un­prece­dented num­ber of women killed by men close to them brought tens of thou­sands of out­raged women into the streets this week.

Their mes­sage: the state that fe­male cit­i­zens have risked their lives to pro­tect is not pro­tect­ing them against vi­o­lence in their homes and com­mu­ni­ties.

“Wake up, Ne­tanyahu! Our blood is not cheap!” read protest signs at­tack­ing the Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter’s in­ac­tion.

For dra­matic ef­fect, many women painted them­selves with fake blood and bruises, and wrote “State of Emer­gency” on their palms, which they pho­tographed and cir­cu­lated on so­cial me­dia. In Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, a dis­play of hun­dreds of red women’s shoes was meant to rep­re­sent the lives that have been lost. The demon­stra­tions and dis­rup­tions were billed as a “Women’s Strike” on Tues­day. Women stepped away from their jobs to par­tic­i­pate in a day of protest, cul­mi­nat­ing in a rally of tens of thou­sands in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square.

The demon­stra­tors called for an emer­gency al­lo­ca­tion of 250 mil­lion shekels (£53 mil­lion) for law en­force­ment and so­cial projects that could pre­vent the next mur­der of an Is­raeli woman by a hus­band, part­ner, or other fam­ily mem­ber.

The fig­ure is the cost of a pro­gramme — ap­proved by the govern­ment in June 2017 but never im­ple­mented — which would have funded new po­lice strate­gies to deal with do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion schemes for both vic­tims and at­tack­ers, and a boost to pub­lic aware­ness and ed­u­ca­tion.

Tues­day’s calls for ur­gent ac­tion were sparked by the grue­some mur­ders of two teenage girls whose bod­ies were both found on Novem­ber 26. Their killings para­dox­i­cally took place just as as Is­rael was mark­ing the In­ter­na­tional Day for the Elim­i­na­tion of Vi­o­lence against Women. The

deaths of Yara Ay­oub, 16, and Sil­vana Tsegai, 13, were seen as sym­bol­is­ing the ut­ter fail­ure of the au­thor­i­ties

The statis­tics are in­fu­ri­at­ing. Ay­oub and Tsegai’s deaths brought the toll of “femi­cide” — mur­ders of women by hus­bands, part­ners, or other fam­ily mem­bers in Is­rael — to 24 deaths in 2018.

On Tues­day, 24 min­utes of si­lence were ob­served across the coun­try at 10am on their be­half.

The num­ber is a rise of more than 30 per cent on the pre­vi­ous year. A to­tal of 194 Is­raeli women have been killed over the past decade, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by the Women’s In­ter­na­tional Zion­ist Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WIZO).

The WIZO do­mes­tic vi­o­lence re­port said half of the mur­der vic­tims had pre­vi­ously re­ported threats or vi­o­lence by their fu­ture mur­der­ers to po­lice. It also said that 70 crim­i­nal files

on do­mes­tic vi­o­lence were opened ev­ery day on av­er­age.

Wel­fare groups es­ti­mate that there are 200,000 bat­tered women in Is­rael with half a mil­lion chil­dren ex­pe­ri­enc­ing vi­o­lence in their homes.

Ac­cus­ing fin­gers were pointed at

Mr Ne­tanyahu, who — a week be­fore the girls’ mur­ders — had di­rected his govern­ment coali­tion to vote against a pro­posal that would have es­tab­lished a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee of in­quiry into the mur­der of women by their spouses, for­mer spouses and other fam­ily mem­bers. His mo­tive was po­lit­i­cal: the pro­posal had been brought for­ward by the op­po­si­tion as an in­dict­ment of his coali­tion’s fail­ure to fol­low through with the rec­om­men­da­tions of a govern­ment body on do­mes­tic vi­o­lence that re­ported two years ago.

The ini­tial signs, how­ever, were that the the­atri­cal tac­tics of Tues­day’s Women’s Strike had an ef­fect.

On Wed­nes­day, a spe­cial min­is­te­rial com­mit­tee meet­ing to ad­dress vi­o­lence against women took place.

At the meet­ing, Mr Ne­tanyahu said do­mes­tic vi­o­lence was “ter­ror in ev­ery way”.

He de­clared — in rather vi­o­lent lan­guage — that it was “nec­es­sary to give sup­port to bat­tered women on one hand and, on the other, to punch the men or hus­bands re­spon­si­ble for beat­ing women in the face”

Mr Ne­tanyahu’s words were promis­ing, but they were small steps in a long jour­ney.

His po­lit­i­cal suc­cess is built on his abil­ity to make Is­raelis be­lieve he is com­mit­ted to keep­ing them safe from threats com­ing from hos­tile ex­ter­nal forces. Now he will have to make Is­raeli women be­lieve he is do­ing all he can to keep them safe in their own homes.

PHO­TOS: FLASH 90

Is­raeli women used fake coffins and (be­low) face paint to sym­bol­ise the acts of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence against them in na­tion­wide demon­stra­tions

PHO­TOS: FLASH 90

Hun­dreds of red shoes were laid out across Habima Square, Tel Aviv, while women wrote “emer­gency sit­u­a­tion” on the palm of their hands

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