Dalal Daoud, an Israeli Arab woman who was jailed for murdering her abusive husband, was ordered released from prison by the parole board on Wednesday after 18 years behind bars.
Daoud was originally sentenced to 25 years. During the hearing, the prosecution explained that it had reversed its position and supported an early release due to the special circumstances of the case.
They presented an opinion from the Domestic Violence Prevention Committee, which had also reversed its categorical opposition to her early release in light of her rehabilitation and therapeutic process in prison. The prosecution explained that, according to the committee, Daoud poses a low risk to the general public.
Daoud was convicted in 2002 for the murder of her husband Ali, who methodically abused her. The couple was married for five years, over the course of which Dalal reported domestic violence by her husband to the police 26 times, but most of her complaints were closed due to lack of public interest. She was sentenced to life imprisonment, which was commuted to 25 years behind bars.
The prosecution also acknowledged that Daoud will undergo a five-year therapy program after her release, and that “it is in the public interest to rehabilitate and give an opportunity to people who have served out their punishment and who complied with all the parameters under law.”
Daoud will be transferred Thursday to a recovery hostel as part of the program that the Prisoner Rehabilitation Authority prepared for her.
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Outside the hearing at the Ramle court, dozens of people protested on Daoud’s behalf. Daoud said that she hopes to send a message to other women, that they will not end up in the same situation as her. She underwent comprehensive rehabilitative treatment in prison, she said.
Speaking at her hearing, Daoud said that she is "very excited" but that she "has a very heavy burden to carry in order to take care of my family and children. I went through therapy in prison, and I want to thank the rehabilitation program. If I didn't have the rehabilitation and tools I received in jail, I wouldn't be standing here today."
In May 2017, President Reuven Rivlin asked that the parole board move up its meeting on her case, on the assumption that she would be released. But in July 2017 the parole board delayed its hearing to May 2018 on grounds that she had to go through individual rehabilitation – rather than just group therapy – to be released.
In her last parole hearing in 2018, welfare workers from the Israel Prison Service argued against releasing Daoud, and recommended she continue her recovery program in prison, as she had not yet undergone personal rehabilitation. The prison service refused to allow Daoud into a personal rehabilitation plan because it would be contingent on the absence of constraints during furlough – and Daoud had been required to remain under house arrest during her breaks outside prison.
Daoud’s attorney, Revital Ben Shabbat Katz, had petitioned the Central District Court, asking that she be placed in an individual program and that her house arrests be cancelled.
Orit Sulitzeanu, executive director of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, said that “the public pressure worked. Finally justice has been done.” She added that “Dalal will be a free woman, but like Dalal, three women are imprisoned who suffered abuse and murderous violence that threatened their bodies and lives until they had no choice but to defend themselves.”
Lawyer Sapir Slotzkin Amrin, who lead the charge to free Daoud, said that she “needed to be released a long time ago, but only through the public struggle was justice served. Finally, Dalal Daoud will have the right to achieve her dream: To go back to being a mother to her children, and to help other women be rescued from the cycle of murderous violence.”