Communist Party of Israel leading activist, MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Hadash – Joint List) head of Knesset Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women, has called upon the public in Israel to join today’s (Tuesday, December 4) nation-wide women’s strike to protest violence against women, in particular after a recent upsurge that included the murders of two teenage girls last week.
The municipalities of Israel’s three largest cities — Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa — have all announced that they will allow workers to participate in the strike. Several cities in the vicinity of Tel Aviv, including Ramat Gan, Bat Yam, Ramat Hasharon, Or Yehuda and Yehud, will also join the strike, as will a number of Arab towns around the country: Arabeh, Tamra, Tira, Sakhnin, Taibe, Kufr Qassem, Jaljulia, Kufr Bara and Qalansawe. The trade union Koach LaOvdim, the National Student Union and the Teachers’ Union will also support the strike.
In addition to the strike, protests are planned to take place today across the country, including a mass gathering in Tel Aviv this evening. Former Hadash MK Muhammad Barakeh, head of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee has also called for mass mobilization to protest the violence against women, and has initiated yet an additional protest in Arabeh on Friday.
The organizers of today’s strike are demanding that the far-right government finally fund a program to prevent violence against women. Last year, the cabinet approved both a proposed plan and its budget of 250 million shekels ($67 million), but the money has never actually been allocated. In addition, PM Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing coalition have voted down a Knesset proposal to establish a parliamentary commission of inquiry on violence against women because it was presented by MK Touma-Sliman and opposition lawmakers. Last week the opposition floated this proposal for a commission of inquiry into violence against women after the government failed to deliver a plan to address the problem, as it had promised to do several weeks ago.
Today’s strike is being conducted under the slogan “I’m a Woman I’m Striking” and has been organized by the Red Flag coalition, which includes over 50 feminist organizations from all sectors of Israeli society. Hadash activist Manel Shalbi, a researcher and feminist activist who co-founded an organization combating violence against women, notes that this is the first time that local authorities are officially announcing a strike to protest the murder of women. “The purpose of the strike is to make people realize that the murder of women is not a marginal topic; it isn’t related only to women but is rather a relevant topic for society as a whole that should be fought for like any other legitimate social and political issue,” Shalbi has said. “On Tuesday, we will join protests throughout the country against the harsh violence women are subjected to, and against the state’s helplessness when it comes to aiding victims of this violence,” she added.
Naila Awwad, director of the Association of Women against Violence, said: “The proportion of Arab women murdered is twice their share of the population. Ten of the 24 women murdered this year were Arabs.”
Over the weekend, several rallies took place in big cities and the Arab communities and across the country. Among the protesters were Hadash Knesset members who raised signs with slogans against violence that called on police to end the phenomenon and displayed pictures of Yara Ayoub, a 16-year-old teen who was found dead this week after being reported as missing for several days. On Monday of last week, a 12-year-old female Eritrean asylum seeker from south Tel Aviv, Silvana Tsegai, was also murdered.