Tens of thousands of demonstrators from around Israel gathered at Tel Aviv's iconic Rabin Square on Tuesday evening, the climax of an eventful day of protests and strike action demanding the implementation of an emergency program to combat domestic violence against women.
"Today we have made history," campaign organizers Stav Arnon, Ruty Klein and Dror Sadot told the vocal Rabin Square crowd.
The three women, backed by dozens of women’s groups, issued the unprecedented call for women to strike last week following the murders of two teenage girls, 13-year-old Sylvana Tsegai and 16-year-old Yara Ayoub, raising the death toll of beaten women to 24 this year and 192 in the last decade.
An emergency program to combat domestic abuse worth NIS 250 million was approved by the government in June 2017 but is yet to receive the required funding.
The initiative includes a public rehabilitation program for victims of domestic violence; a rehabilitation program for attackers; education and public awareness efforts; and a comprehensive policy change in the Israel Police’s approach to domestic violence.The Jerusalem Post
met up with some of the attendees of the protest
to here what they had to say. Israeli's, coming from all over the country, both from the Arab and Jewish sectors, came together in a time of increased violence against women to express their voices
"I am the sister of Dua'a, who was murdered on the 23rd of September in 2016, and I am her to give my voice to the women and be together with them," said Shayma Abu Sharkh, " [I am here] so that [women] will not be afraid, that they will come out to support each other that feels threatened and should speak and not be silent, [then] I think she may not be the next in line."
"It's reeducation that has to start in the home so this phenomenon will not repeat itself, because it's terrible. The woman who was killed, could be my wife, my sister, my daughter or my girlfriend." Sami, a protester from the Galilee commented regarding the initiatives that they are attempting to get the government to pass.
"This is the time that the government will [need to] allocate enough of a budget to stop the murder of women. Women have been victims here for a long time, only in the past year 24 women were murdered by domestic violence, and this time that everyone will [start to] pay attention and the government will allocate all the budget that is needed to stop these murders."
Across the country, many opting to work wore black clothes and answered the call of protest organizers to exit their offices at 10 a.m. for 24 minutes of silence in memory of this year's victims. Flights from Ben-Gurion Airport were delayed as Israel Airports Authority staff marched in protest at midday. Signs reads a women's blood is not worthless, while the crowd chanted, "We're not going to take it anymore."
Huussam Azem, of Taibe said, "[I came] all the way from Taibe, to represent the voice of the Arab sector like the rest of the county [voicing] against violence against women. A woman has to be equal to a man, and today we all shout loudly together. The Arab sector is a part of this country and we have to change for the better also in this struggle."
"I enlisted with the rest of the women, Arabs and Jews, with the intention of making our voices heard. I'm hoping that it will make a difference in the government and in the Arab sector as well." said Fatma Sarsour, of Kfar Kassem.
During the event there were even appearances from some members of Knesset. One member of the Meretz Party gave a comment on his involvement to the Post
"I am very sorry that such a protest immediately gets labelled as 'left wing' such a protest should include the entire political spectrum in the State of Israel. But what [always happens is that] as soon as [someone sees] Arabic script, it is regarded as left, and we do not see the other side, and that is sad and it hurts to see that." said Esawi Frej, MK Meretz, "A woman is a woman, no matter where she is, or where she belongs. This dangerous phenomenon has to be fought and everyone must unite in this battle."
Sarah Segal-Katz, a citizen of Jerusalem and also a member of the women's support group Kolech said, "It appears that the last murders and the relations makes no difference, murders of women have brought us to a place, where we have to come out and say stop. We cannot just continue talking, but rather ask the decision makers in the country to make a change."
"Kolech is an orthodox Jewish feminine organization with a center for preventing domestic abuse and sexual violence, and that is a field that is not pleasant to deal with. We would rather take part in "Tikkun Olam
" in the most positive sense. But to fix things, means that something is damaged, and my being a part of all that brought me here." Segal-Katz concluded.
Eytan Halon contributed to this report.
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