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Tragedy struck the Ethiopian community in Holon before dawn Tuesday when police responded to an emergency call to find 40-year-old Peleg Tadasa dying in a pool of blood on her bed.
Investigators suspect that her husband, Anatenech, 47, who was found bleeding next to her, murdered her and then stabbed himself in an apparent murder-suicide attempt. If so, the killing is the fourth case in seven months in which an Ethiopian immigrant woman has been murdered by her husband.
Neighbors called police Tuesday after they said they heard screams coming from the third-floor apartment at the corner of Rehov Hamatmid and Rehov Hage'onim. Upon entering the apartment, police discovered Tadasa, who was nine months pregnant, lying on her bed with her stomach exposed and suffering from fatal injuries to her head.
She succumbed to her wounds, which police believe were caused by a hammer and a knife, shortly thereafter.
Anatenech lay next to her, conscious, but with two stab wounds. Police arrested him on the scene and took him to Wolfson Hospital, where he was listed in good condition.
The couple emigrated from Ethiopia two years ago and had seven children. Police said four of the children, ranging in age from four to nine, were in the home at the time of the attack, but would not say whether any of the children had witnessed the act. The four, some of whom do not speak any Hebrew, were put under the care of child welfare services, who then turned them over to a distant relative to live temporarily in the same neighborhood where they had lived with their parents.
Although police said there was no previous record of complaints from the couple, Peleg's brother told Channel 10 Tuesday that Peleg had lived in fear of her husband's violence and that family members had advised her to seek the help of an Amharic-speaking social worker.
Peleg had reportedly considered fleeing from her husband and moving to Jerusalem, but they had allegedly attempted a reconciliation, which her husband had couched in the terms of family stability.
Four Ethiopian immigrant women have been murdered this year by their husbands, comprising over a quarter of the 15 women killed by their husbands in 2006. A fifth Ethiopian woman was murdered by her boyfriend in May.
While Ethiopian Jews comprise approximately one percent of the population, around 25% of women killed by their husbands in Israel in the past decade have been Ethiopian. Sociologists have searched for answers to the rising phenomenon, which is frequently explained as stemming from poor absorption patterns and destruction of the paternal hierarchy that is traditional in Ethiopian society.
But few domestic violence resources are available for new immigrant Ethiopian women who only speak Amharic. Most hot lines are manned by Russian and Hebrew speakers and a 2005 summary of the Ethiopian initiative by the Jewish Agency did not even mention the alarmingly high rates of domestic violence as one of the problems that has emerged in that community.
In the most recent case before Tuesday, Ethiopian immigrant Ababa Andiknan stabbed his wife to death as she stood washing dishes in the kitchen in early September. After murdering his wife he moved to the living room, where he stabbed his mother-in-law repeatedly until she, too, was dead.
Andiknan then called police, telling them that he had "beaten" his wife and mother-in-law and as police hurried to the scene, he turned the knife on himself in what police described as a suicide attempt.
When police arrived at the apartment, they discovered him bleeding and also found four of the couple's five children present in the bloodied house. The oldest son, 12, fled the apartment after witnessing the violence and was later found wandering the streets in Rehovot, kilometers away.
The five children were turned over to their mother's sister for care in cooperation with representatives of child welfare services.â€¢