Immigrant kills wife, hangs himself in Rishon Lezion

Couple’s son finds bodies; MK Molla blames government for failing to understand newcomers’ needs.

Israel Police officer 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Israel Police officer 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
A man stabbed his wife to death before hanging himself in their Rishon Lezion apartment on Tuesday.
Two of the couple’s children – a 10-year-old boy and 12- year-old girl – heard their mother scream in her bedroom and tried to reach her, only to find that she had been locked in by their father. The boy sneaked into the room through a window and found the bodies of his parents.
He shouted to his uncle, who lives in the next building, for help, who then contacted emergency services.
Police forensic units arrived on the scene and removed the bodies.
The incident is the fourth time a woman was murdered by her partner in the past four weeks.
The family were members of the Ethiopian community, which has struggled with incidents of domestic violence in recent years. The latest figures released by the Welfare and Social Affairs Ministry this week show that 60.1 percent of the 110,000 community receives ongoing treatment from social services.
Despite this, a spokeswoman for the Rishon Lezion municipality told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday that the family, which made aliya in 2006, had received brief assistance from social welfare services for economic difficulties in 2008 but had not received ongoing social services for any other problems.
In a statement, the Knesset’s only Ethiopian-born member, Shlomo Molla (Kadima), blamed the various government offices charged with helping the immigrant community for failing to understand the specific needs of Ethiopians.
He said the entire absorption process leaves many new immigrants without permanent housing or the skills needed to find work – in a state of “idleness” – which causes them to be disoriented and frustrated and often leads to domestic violence.
“Again and again we keep hearing about these terrible incidents of murders and domestic violence that are destroying entire families,” said Molla. “We should not accept this terrible reality, where we are failing to prevent these incidents, failing to protect women and seeing children end up as orphans.”
Micah Feldman, who worked with the Ethiopian community for many years and now heads the Ethiopian Division of SELAH – Israel Crisis Management Center, spent Tuesday morning comforting relatives of the couple, although he said he did not have a chance to meet with the three children, the youngest of whom is five.
SELAH provides support and counseling to members of immigrant communities that experience tragedy. In this case, Feldman explained SELAH would likely help the relatives cover the costs of the mourning and burial ceremonies, and would also work together with the authorities to find a framework for the children, preferably sending them to live with their grandparents.
He told the Post that cases of domestic violence or murder in families were very rare before immigrants arrived in Israel.
“In the 30 years I have been working with the Ethiopian community, I have only heard of two cases of murder in the family and both happened in the city, never in villages,” he said, explaining that in Ethiopia there is usually a network of social support that helps solve problems among couples.
When they arrive in Israel, said Feldman, “there is no alternative network in place. In Ethiopia, the elders were in charge but here that has disappeared.”
He also explained that pressures faced by new immigrants after they arrive in Israel do not exist in their country of origin, where the men spend most of their time working and the women take care of the home.
“In Israel these immigrants are faced with great economic pressure, they are barely surviving financially,” said Feldman, adding there is also a disconnect between the generations, with children behaving more “Israeli” and parents wanting them to adhere to the old traditions of respect.