Chairman of the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality, MK Aida Touma-Suleiman (Hadash ‒ Joint List), sent on Tuesday, October 16, an urgent letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in which she lists the names of the women who were murdered this year. “Every name is an entire world, a woman full of hopes and dreams, with a family, parents and children whose lives were destroyed,” she wrote.
“I appeal to you again and ask you to declare a state of emergency and make sure that the Ministry of Finance fully finances the five-year plan so that government ministries can start implementing the recommendations they have been working on for several years.” The Knesset Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality held a special session regarding murder and violence towards women on Wednesday, October 17.
Samah Salayama, the founder of the Na’am movement (Arab Women in the Center) and an activist in the fight against domestic violence, says that 70% of the murder victims complained to the police before their deaths.
“They sought help from the authorities and the system failed them. If it is not shocking enough, let us look at what happens after the woman is murdered… There is no Jewish man who murdered a Jewish woman who does not pay his dues, and that is the way it should be. However, this is not the reality in the Arab sector, where more than 70% of the last decade’s murder cases remain unsolved,” she emphasized.
MK Touma-Sliman and The Gun-Free Kitchen Tables coalition campaign links the murder cases with the proliferation of weapons in the public sphere, and warns against the consequences of the initiative proposed by far-right Minister of Public Security, Gilad Erdan, to ease the government’s restrictions for obtaining a firearm license.
According to Michal Gera Margaliot, director of the Israel Women’s Network, “twenty women have been murdered since the beginning of the year, and yet the biggest reform recently adopted in relation to civilian firearms does not protect women, but potentially expands the number of citizens who carry arms by 600,000, despite the fact that about a third of the victims in the past seven years have lost their lives due to guns.”
On Thursday, October 18, hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Jerusalem, Haifa, Tel Aviv and other 17 cities around Israel to protest violence against women. Protesters stopped traffic near Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Square, causing the adjacent streets to be closed for half an hour. Among the protestors: MK Touma-Sliman and Hadash MK Dov Khenin (Joint List).
The protesters stood for a moment of silence in memory of women who have been recent victims of violence. One of the organizers of the protest in Tel Aviv, the actor Yael Abecassis, read aloud a list of the victims in the past year. “Enough! It’s possible to put an end to this,” Abecassis said. “We must act differently. We need to establish a national emergency organization. Our souls are being murdered.” The demonstrators held aloft signs sporting the pictures of victims of violence, as well as transparent balloons with the words, “The Cry of Transparent Women.”