Homegrown terrorism

In the past five years, 82 women in Israel were murdered by their spouse or by another family relative.

Amir Peretz (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI)
Amir Peretz
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI)
Most women who were murdered in Israel in the past five years were not the victims of Palestinian terrorists who crossed the barrier into Israel from the West Bank.
Neither were they killed by Kassam rockets from the Gaza Strip. They were murdered by homegrown terrorists.
In the past five years, 82 women in Israel were murdered by their spouse or by another family relative. There are also thousands of reported sexual assaults each year (and an unknown number of unreported ones), and they , too, often take place within the walls of women’s homes, in the most intimate and sensitive place, where they ought to be as safe as possible.
Just as with nationalist or religious fundamentalist terrorism, there are warning signs ahead of a many incidences of domestic violence. In almost half the cases, murdered women were known to welfare services and had turned to the police before to report family violence.
However, unlike the way terrorism is usually treated, “homegrown terrorism” is usually sidelined in the media; responsible ministries are allowed only limited budgets, and coalition members do not compete by proposing creative bills to address the threat of domestic violence.
Marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on Saturday, November 25, it is time to acknowledge that violence against women had crossed every border.
It is committed by new immigrants and veteran Israelis, Jews and Arabs, religious and secular.
There are plenty of blueprints to tackle the problem and public awareness is at an unprecedentedly high level. Legislation is fortunately also progressive.
Special inter-ministerial committees present their recommendations and state comptroller reports pile up on the Knesset’s desks. The challenge today is only implementation.
The government continues to withhold budgets to realize the comprehensive plan to prevent violence against women, which was presented to it already in June 2016 by the director general of the Public Security Minister on behalf of the committee he headed.
How absurd is the fact that the plan was adopted by the government, but has simply not been executed.
In a discussion held in the Knesset this week, a government representative reported unashamedly that out of NIS 50 million allocated for the elimination of violence against women in 2018, only NIS 20m. would be transferred.
Seventeen women have already been murdered since the plan was authorized and its realization is stuck. It is as if there were no government in Jerusalem.
The Israeli government ceaselessly deals with itself and relentlessly spreads benefits to its associates, with a whole host of ludicrous and bizarre laws that are mostly meant to sustain its own survival.
Had the government recognized that homegrown terrorism is no less of a threat that the terrorism at the checkpoints and had it accepted that women under threat are not worth any less, I am convinced we would have been in a different place altogether today.
The bad news is that terrorism against women is not going to be eliminated through sheer inertia. The good news is that it is also not sanctioned by fate.
There are concrete and effective preventative measures to be taken to minimize this threat and save lives. All it takes now is granting the required budgets to implement existing plans, prioritize enforcement and operate with zero tolerance toward violence against women.
The author is a Zionist Union Knesset member and a member of the Committee for the Advancement of Women and Gender Equality.