A bill to double the punishment for nationalistically-motivated sexual assault passed its preliminary reading in the Knesset on Wednesday.
The bill, submitted by Otzma Yehudit MKs Limor Son Har-Melech and Yitzhak Kreuzer, passed 44-8. The article will return to the committee in preparation for further readings.
"Sexual terrorism, even if they deny it, is an existing and horrifying phenomenon."Limor Son Har-Melech
“Sexual terrorism, even if they deny it, is an existing and horrifying phenomenon,” said Son Har-Melech. “Terrorist crimes, as I know firsthand, leave the victim with mental scars that never heal. Sexual harassment also, as I know, leaves the victims with mental scars that never heal. A combination of sexual harassment, committed on a nationalistic background, leaves the victims with a double scar; there is no reason why the punishment should not be doubled.”
If the law passes, the current punishment of up to 16 years in prison could be doubled for sexual offenders with nationalistic motives. The victim would also be entitled to double compensation, up to NIS 240,000.
Why is there a law against sexual terrorism being proposed in Israel?
The law’s explanatory notes claimed that reports of women being sexually harassed because of their religious identity had increased to the point that throughout the country women were afraid to go out in the evening.
“In the past year, I have heard dozens of testimonies from women who travel every day on buses in the Samaria region,” said Son Har-Melech. “The sexual harassment they undergo due to nationalistic context requires a renewed consideration of the law.”
Kreuzer said that the bill would implement justice against the “human scum” who seek to harm the souls of Jewish women.
The bill was submitted in February following the high-profile rape of a woman in her home in Gedera, in front of her children. The law’s submission was also not long after the January 29 sentencing of the rapist and murderer of Ori Ansbacher.
Hebron resident Arafat Irfaya killed the 19-year-old Israeli teenager in a 2019 attack. The terrorist stabbed Ansbacher, raped her and left her to die. Irfaya was sentenced to life in prison with an additional 20 years.