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Two men are thought to have murdered their wives and then committed suicide yesterday, even though in both cases the men were under restraining orders and had been the subjects of criminal proceedings.

The first case occurred in Kiryat Ata yesterday morning. Police were alerted after the husband, a man of 50, called a friend near Be'er Sheva and announced that he had just murdered his wife and was about to hang himself.

The friend did not have the man's address, but immediately called the police, who eventually located the house via the husband's cell phone number.

When they arrived they found that the man had indeed hung himself in the yard. The wife's lifeless body was discovered inside the house.

The couple's three children - two they had together, and the man's son from a previous marriage - were all in school at the time of the incident.

The couple was in the process of divorcing and had been under the care of local welfare authorities.

In May the woman told police that her husband had assaulted her; a few days later he was served with a restraining order. But police said the man denied the allegation, and the woman refused to allow them to question her children, so the case was closed.

Moreover, the restraining order was never enforced, in part because the woman, who taught math at a local elementary school, refused to cooperate, police said.

A neighbor, Galia Farhi, confirmed this. "She didn't want him in the house, but he kept coming, and apparently she took pity on him," Farhi said.

Social workers similarly said they repeatedly proposed intervention after her police complaint was filed, but the woman refused, insisting that the violence had ceased.

Several neighbors said the two engaged in constant screaming matches. One added that the husband, who worked odd jobs as a repairman and garage mechanic, had tried to commit suicide before, and had also threatened to kill his wife.

But police said none of the neighbors ever reported either the screaming or the threats to them.

The day's second murder-suicide occurred in the Lower Galilee town of Massad. Police said emergency services were called to the scene at about 7 P.M., after two shots were heard from the apartment of a couple in their fifties. In the doorway, they found husband and wife locked in an embrace, both dead.

Police said the husband had evidently obtained a pistol, despite not having a gun license, and used it to shoot his wife and then himself. The couple had a 17-year-old son still living at home, in addition to three adult daughters. One witness said the boy saw his father shoot his mother and ran to get help before the suicide occurred.

The woman had complained to the police about abuse by her husband 2008. The man was arrested, charged and jailed for two months before being released under a restraining order enforced by an electronic cuff. Last October, a court sentenced him to a year's supervision without convicting him. But after that, police said, they received no further complaints about him.

Police are still uncertain about the motive for the murder, but said media reports of the Kiryat Ata murder-suicide may have influenced the husband.

David Gabbai - who is both a neighbor and a colleague of the woman's from the Tiberias welfare department, where she dealt with at-risk youth - said that while the couple was known to be in the process of divorcing, she had never expressed fear for her life.

But two woman friends said they had heard her voice such fears recently.

Dana Weiler-Polak contributed to this report