Thousands of protesters gathered on Monday evening, June 1, in the Charles Clore Park in Tel Aviv, crying, “Women, end the violence together.” The demonstrators called on the far-right government to fund programs battling domestic violence, highlighting how eight women have been murdered in Israel in acts of domestic abuse since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The protest at the beachfront park began with the reading of the names of 11 women who have been killed since the start of the year, including in a rash of murders over the past two months. Organizers said most of the NIS 250 million ($71 million) approved in 2017 for national programs to prevent domestic violence have not yet been transferred to relevant authorities.
Dozens of women’s rights organizations participated in the protest, among them Jewish and Arabs Communist and Hadash activists and members of the Women Democratic Movement in Israel (TANDI). “Especially now, when we are speaking of another ‘siege’ because the Coronavirus we must remember that there are women that are not safe in their homes,” the organizers said ahead of the event. “The plague called ‘violence against women’ has solutions, and they are in the hands of the government. For a year and a half, decision-makers smeared us while women were murdered. There are over 30 ministers and not a single one is caring for us,” said Dror Sadot, Stav Arnon and Ruti Klein, who organized the event.
Participants who addressed the protest included a number of siblings of women murdered in domestic violence cases. These included Lily Ben-Ami, an expert on gender and social entrepreneurship, who is the chairperson of the Michal Sela Forum founded in memory of her sister who was murdered by her husband, Eliran Malul in an act of domestic violence in October 2019. Shira Vishniyak, sister of Maya Vishniyak, who was recently murdered in a strangulation attack by her boyfriend also spoke.
Cases of domestic violence have risen dramatically since the beginning of the pandemic, as victims of such abuse are often locked at home with those who harm them. The Labor and Social Services Ministry’s domestic abuse hotline 118 has seen a 122% increase in calls during May alone.