Last Wednesday, the coalition struck down a law proposal by opposition MKs to force violent domestic offenders to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet to make them respect restraining orders.
After the bill fell, all of the female MKs in the opposition pulled out electronic bracelets in an act of protest, and cried: “women’s blood should not be shed in vain.”
It didn’t matter to the coalition that just a day before, a woman was laid to rest after she was allegedly beaten by her husband a few days earlier or the fact that last year 24 women were killed by violent spouses or family members, marking a 50% increase over 2021.
And the bill was ready. In June 2022, the Public Security Committee passed a preliminary reading of a bill that, if it were to pass fully, would require confirmed domestic abusers for whom a protection order has been issued to wear electronic tracking bracelets.
The bill would allow the court to order the use of electronic restraints on a person who has committed a violent offense against a family member based on a risk assessment, thus allowing women affected by violence to feel safer and more protected.
In February alone, there were four acts of femicide, generally defined as the murder of women because they are women.
The NGO Amutat Bat Melech, which assists religious and haredi (ultra-Orthodox) women who suffer from domestic violence, said in response: “Rejecting the electronic bracelet bill is disconnected from the terrible reality of seven femicides [now eight] since the beginning of the year. This is an effective tool of the first degree that could have saved lives and reduced the threat to women suffering from domestic violence. This is a matter of life and death, whose whole purpose is to provide a solution to defend women.”
Why did the coalition vote against the bill?
So why did the coalition decide to vote against the bill? Because that is what National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir wanted. Instead of voting with the opposition’s bill that would increase the protection of women at risk already now, Ben-Gvir decided that he wants more time to study the issue and consider whether an electronic monitoring bracelet will be for men with one prior conviction, or two, or perhaps three.
Ben-Gvir has said that he wants a bill that not only protects women but also ensures that men are not falsely accused and are unfairly forced to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet.
While we wish it was possible to get this perfect, it is negligent and irresponsible to delay this law. Israel faces a severe increase in violence against women and there is no ignoring the fact that, even if there are occasional cases of men falsely accused, they are not the victims. The women are. They are the ones being beaten, murdered and buried, almost every other week.
The annual report from the Israel Observatory on Femicide (IOF) found a concerning increase in 2022 but also, that despite the Arab sector only making up 21% of Israel’s total population, 50% of women murdered in 2022 were Israeli-Arabs, indicating a disproportionate wave of gender violence within Arab society.
The criticism of Ben-Gvir and the coalition was wall-to-wall. Na’amat CEO Hagit Pe’er said: “Shame on you. The government is directly endangering the lives of women in Israel.... It is best that they do not dare to come for photo-op tours that they love so much in abused women’s shelters – shame on you – you are not wanted.”
Opposition leader MK Yair Lapid explained simply: “Women will die because of this government. Women will be beaten because of this government. The coalition blocked the electronic bracelet, which would have saved the lives of abused women. Because they do not care about women, they only care about politics.”
The coalition needs to realize that when faced with such a dire situation it does not always have the opportunity to sit back and study and wait. Women are under threat, are being assaulted and murdered at the very time coalition members like Ben-Gvir are thinking about what to do.
Action is needed now and when the next murder happens, the blood will be on the coalition’s hands.