TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday called violence against women “terrorism” and said he would push legislation to fight it the day after tens of thousands of Israelis went on strike and took to the streets to protest the government’s failure to deal with the issue.
Rallies took place across the country Tuesday, the largest of which was in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, which drew some 40,000 demonstrators who came out in protest over the 24 women murdered since the beginning of the year by their husbands, family members or someone otherwise close to them.
The strike was triggered by news that two teenagers had been killed on the same day last week in unrelated homicides: Yara Ayub, 16, from the northern Arab-Israeli village of Jish, and Sylvana Tzegai, 13, who was found murdered in her home in Tel Aviv, allegedly by her mother’s ex-partner.
In a rare move, Netanyahu chaired a specially-formed ministerial committee on the matter Wednesday morning. According to a readout of the meeting by the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu instructed Cabinet Secretary Tzachi Braverman to submit legislation on electronic handcuffing that would see domestic abusers wear tracking bracelets to ensure they don’t violate restraining orders.
“I intend to bring about two results – one for the victims and one for those who carry out the crime. The victims are women who suffer violence and abuse and we are committed to implementing the existing plans,” Netanyahu said.
“I believe that there are more budgets than I thought, but they are not being used. An unused budget is as if it does not exist. We know what the amounts are and we will act now, first of all, to use them and – if need be – to augment them,” he added, according to the PMO’s statement.
He went on to describe domestic violence as “terrorism.”
“The second thing is to deal with the violent men. I see violence against women as terrorism in every respect. We do not deal with terrorism only by caring for the victim; of course it is necessary to care for the victims of terrorism. But nobody would dare consider that we fight terrorism without dealing with the terrorists. First and foremost there needs to be punishment for these criminals,” the prime minister said.
He stated that the current establishments for dealing with abusive men were “paralyzed,” and added that the raw statistics on the subject was “very, very problematic.”
“The state must give assistance to battered women and children, and we are doing so, but on the other hand, ‘punch in the face’ the abusive husbands. We must do both things together,” he said.
He concluded that the ministerial committee would meet every other week and issue a report on what had been achieved.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan pledged to invest resources into battling domestic violence, including “stepping up punishments” for offenders.
“Women must feel safe and protected and not scared of more violence from their abusers,” said Erdan.
Erdan drafted the electronic bracelet law together with Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.
“This new technology will enable us to turn this situation around and free women from violence,” Shaked said.
On Tuesday, Tel Aviv’s municipal building was lit up with the word “Enough!” in Hebrew.
Earlier in the day, a 24-minute silence was observed in memory of the 24 victims.
President Reuven Rivlin expressed his support for the strikes and gave permission for his own employees to go out and demonstrate.
— Reuven Rivlin (@PresidentRuvi) December 4, 2018