Thousands protest violence against women across Israel after murders

"If there were two people killed this week by terrorism the earth would shake."

Protest against violence against women in Jerusalem (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Protest against violence against women in Jerusalem
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Thousands of people protested across the country against violence against women on Wednesday, following the Monday murders of two women, allegedly by their spouses.  
Najah Mansoor, 35, was found dead in her Kiryat Haim apartment with signs of violence on her body, and her husband was found shortly afterward running through the streets with a knife.
A few hours later in Beersheba, police found the body of 67-year-old Irina Graribnov in her apartment, after her husband allegedly beat her to death with a hammer.
Wednesday’s protests took place in cities around Israel, including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Beersheba, Haifa, Nazareth, Beit Shemesh and Ra’anana.
Earlier on Wednesday, approximately a hundred people gathered outside the Knesset to protest violence against women. Protesters bore signs with the names of murdered women.
“We demand actions instead of excuses, and budgets instead of tweets,” said protesters.
The newest wave of protests against violence against women come just a day after a stormy discussion at the Knesset concerning a proposal to consider financial abuse a crime.
On Tuesday, the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee discussed the bill proposed by MK Keren Barak that would allow courts to issue orders preventing financial abuse and allow victims to sue for damages. The bill applies to issues between spouses and issues between parents and children.
Both Barak and Social Equality Minister Meirav Cohen backed the bill, with Cohen presenting a number of witness testimonies.
MK Bezalel Smotrich, however, interrupted Cohen a number of times, claiming that her remarks applied only to women. Committee chairman MK Yakov Asher stressed that the committee should discuss what exactly is the best way to prevent the abuse and how wide-scale the prevention should be.
“The advantage of the crazed progressive Left is that it is able to bring in arguments and advance perceptions in a sophisticated way, in legal terms,” Smotrich asked. “When everything is terrorism, then terrorism is not such a terrible thing. There is no doubt that there is an unhealthy relationship between spouses. It can be a man who is financially controlling and can be a woman who puts the family in debt. It is another tool in the war between the sexes.
“Suppose there is a problem – why is the solution always in court?” asked Smotrich, warning that the law would “break up families.”
Blue and White MK Tehila Friedman stressed that “the law is a law to strengthen the family. For many years, coercion between spouses was not considered rape; and today, in most countries of the Western world, it is. We have before us evidence from the forum of the families of those murdered and the murdered women with descriptions of judgments on economic abuse.”
“This is a legal troll that will destroy families and cause any family-loving relationship to become a rigid and legal system, with the court determining how the family will be run,” warned Likud MK Shlomo Karhi.
Chairman of the Knesset State Control Committee Ofer Shelah (Yesh Atid) called on the state comptroller to examine why government decisions concerning domestic violence were not budgeted, especially considering the rise in domestic abuse incidents during the coronavirus crisis.
“The problematic reality is the result of a failure to implement existing treatment plans,” he said. “If there were two people killed this week by terrorism, the earth would shake. This should be one of the most pressing issues of this time.”
Shelah stressed that he did not see anything more important than this issue before the state comptroller.
Eliezer Rosenbaum, deputy director-general of the Public Security Ministry, told the committee that all ministries have been discussing how to improve the handling of violence against women since the coronavirus crisis began, and stressed that Knesset legislation is necessary to allow proper handling of the issue. The deputy director-general added that the ministry did not receive the budget it requested but was implementing programs for domestic violence in any case.
THERE HAS been a 12.8% rise in the number of complaints about domestic violence throughout society, according to the head of Israel Police’s Youth and Family Division, Ofer Messing, who added that the division is sure that there are many cases of underreporting.
Naila Awad, director-general of the Women Against Violence organization, told the committee that there was an over-60% rise in domestic violence cases since the lockdowns began earlier this year. The organization received about 700 reports of domestic violence in the first half of the year compared to 800 reports throughout the entire year of 2019.
The Women’s International Zionist Organization announced that its Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Domestic Violence recorded a 300% increase in the number of referrals and an increase of about 250% in the number of patients since the first lockdown earlier this year, compared to the same period last year.
Calls to WIZO’s emergency line for women affected by violence rose by about 75%. Calls to the organization’s hotline for men involved in domestic abuse rose by about 400%.
During the coronavirus crisis, the national emergency shelter opened by WIZO in cooperation with the Social Services Ministry has provided protection to 120 families, three times the annual occupancy of a regular shelter.
Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.