Israeli women protested against government inaction in the face of domestic violence on Wednesday after five people were murdered and another four committed suicide in domestic violence incidents during the coronavirus lockdown.
Hundreds of women protested at over ten locations throughout Israel simultaneously, including in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Lod and Beersheba, according to Ynet. In Tel Aviv, protesters blocked King George St. for 15 minutes.
Israel Police reported a 16% rise in the number of domestic violence cases opened, mostly involving violence against women, along with a 31% rise in the number of calls about domestic violence to police dispatch compared to the same period last year.
MK Aida Touma-Suleiman said that due to coronavirus restrictions, many women have entered lockdown in homes that have become traps with the most dangerous people to them.
"Every time we raised the alert, the writing was on the wall. Five women were murdered since the start of the outbreak," wrote Joint List MK Eman Khatib-Yassan on Twitter. "It's time for the government to pay the price.
Blue and White MK Ram Shefa showed up at the protests, writing on Facebook that he came because Israel "must put a stop to [domestic violence] and treat this no less harshly than the other challenges the coronavirus crisis has placed before us."
"This is a mission for all of us, and when a government is formed, I promise to do everything in order to fix this," wrote Shefa.
The government has begun a national rehabilitation program for women affected by domestic violence, Maariv, the sister publication of The Jerusalem Post, revealed on Sunday morning.
The program, called "new threat," is being run in cooperation between the Welfare Ministry and "Alone," a social organization which attempts to reduce poverty and social gaps in Israel by promoting the employment of poor and low-income populations.
NIS 20 million was set aside by the Treasury Ministry for the Welfare Ministry to use in the fight against domestic violence in January, but wasn't transferred to the ministry until November due to two rounds of elections. Once the funds were finally transferred they were taken back by the Treasury Ministry at the end of 2019 before the Welfare Ministry could use the funds, as the budgeted funds were only for 2019.
Touma-Suleiman called on the government to investigate where the money went to. "This is money that was meant to save lives."
MK Keren Barak called on Welfare Minister Ofir Akunis to have the promised funds transferred immediately in order to implement the plan to establish a rehab hostel for violent men. "Any additional delay in the transfer of the budget to form the hostel could lead to further deaths," warned Barak.
While currently, rehab programs for men who commit domestic abuse in Israel only have a 1% success rate, the hostel plan is a proven program with a 98% success rate, according to Barak. This would be the first hostel of its kind in the world in which ex-convicts would undergo intense therapy while dealing with the real world to learn how to find a job, take responsibility for providing for a family and allow the person's partner and family to return into their life in stages.Tamar Beeri contributed to this report.