Despite Committee's Support, Israel Refuses to Release Woman Who Killed Abusive Husband

The prison service won’t let Daoud into an individual rehabilitation track because she is required to remain under house arrest during her furloughs and the police refuse to drop this condition

A demonstration for the release of Dalal Daoud in front of the Ramle Magistrate's Court, in 2017.
Ilan Assayag

Israel Prison Service social workers believe that Dalal Daoud, who has been imprisoned for 18 years for murdering her abusive husband, shouldn’t be released because she hasn’t gotten individualized rehabilitation in prison, even though various state bodies support her release.

A parole board is due to convene Wednesday on her case.

The prison service won’t let Daoud into an individual rehabilitation track because she is required to remain under house arrest during her furloughs and the police refuse to drop this condition.

Under prison service rules, one of the prerequisites for receiving individual rehab is that the prisoner can go on furlough with no restrictions.

Dalal Daoud, who has been imprisoned for 18 years for murdering her abusive husband.
Alex Kolomoisky, Yedioth Ahronoth

Nevertheless, the Domestic Violence Prevention Committee, a Social Affairs Ministry panel, has recommended her release, which is also favored by the Prisoner Rehabilitation Authority.

Daoud has served 18 years of her 25-year sentence, and is attending group rehabilitation sessions. Daoud’s attorney, Revital Ben Shabbat Katz, has recently petitioned the Central District Court, asking that she be placed in an individual rehab program and that her house arrests be cancelled.

Over the past few days there has been an online campaign called “We’re Freeing Dalal,” in which social activists are filmed reading Daoud’s testimony about the violence she suffered at her husband’s hands.

Daoud’s testimonies were given to Tamar Dahan of the Tel Aviv University School of Social Work, who researches women who were convicted of murder or manslaughter for killing their partners. The campaign was launched with the help of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel.

“The violence started from the beginning, from the first week of our marriage,” Daoud said in one of the testimonies. “There wasn’t a single calm day. There wasn’t a day that he didn’t find something. No nice moments of togetherness. One day, when I was in my fifth month of pregnancy, I tried to commit suicide because of the pain and they took me to the hospital, where they wanted to take me for psychiatric exams instead of taking him. My family took me in and he would come there every day and yell.

“In the end I went back to him in the seventh month and he hit me in the stomach. I was taken to the hospital, where they said they had to do a caesarean and I gave birth to a daughter in the seventh month. On the second day he came to the hospital and hit me for having a girl and not a boy. There was a huge commotion there. It’s all written at the hospital. I’m curious as to why they never detained him even for a minute.”

Attorney Sapir Sluzker-Amran, one of the leaders of the campaign to release Daoud, said, “Only a few months ago we shut down the country to protest violence against women, and we want to see results in the case of Dalal, who complained to the police and the welfare authorities and to anyone who was willing to listen and still went back to her home again and again, as police closed most of the cases for lack of evidence. It’s outrageous that the prosecution is still deliberating whether to support Dalal’s release, even though it’s clear to all of us that she isn’t dangerous and that 18 years in prison is enough. If she had a debt to pay to society, she has already paid it in full.”

Daoud was convicted in 2002 for murdering her husband Ali, who systematically abused her. They were married for five years, during which Daoud filed 26 abuse complaints with the police, but most of the cases were closed for lack of public interest. She was sentenced to life imprisonment, which was later commuted to 25 years. In May 2017, President Reuven Rivlin asked that the parole board move up its meeting on her case, on the assumption she would be released. But in July 2017 the parole board put off its hearing to May 2018 on grounds that she had to go through individual rehabilitation to be released.

After the parole board decided to send her to a general rehabilitation wing, Neveh Tirtza prison refused to transfer her there because she had brought new clothes into the prison when she returned from a furlough, which was a violation of her furlough terms. Daoud denied this, saying that everything she left with and returned with had been recorded by a guard who checked her possessions. In the end she was transferred to the rehab wing only last month. During a parole board hearing in her case in October, both the prison Service and the Domestic Violence Prevention Committee had objected to her release.

The Prison Service said in response that at the parole board meeting, it “only presents the facts that relate to the rehabilitation process the prisoner is undergoing in prison. It should be stressed that the Prison Service does not make recommendations to the parole board. The decision on whether to release lies solely with the members of the parole board, after they examine all the data from the police, the Prisoner Release Authority and community officials.”