Over 300 Israeli Institutions Back Strike Over Violence Against Women

Tens of thousands expected to strike Tuesday. The Civil Service Commission, the Knesset, civil society organizations, local municipalities and some of the country's biggest employers will allow women to strike, though some will dock their pay

Protesting violence against women in Tel Aviv, November 25, 2018.
Moti Milrod

Over 300 institutions including the Knesset, the Social Security Administration, Civil Service Commission, the Social Workers’ Union, the Histadrut labor federation, the Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO) and the Na’amat women’s organization have announced they will join Tuesday’s strike in protest of violence against women.

Several companies and local authorities have indicated they would also allow female employees to miss work without their pay being docked. Others, such as the Civil Service Commission and around 50 local municipalities - under direction from the Finance Ministry - will allow workers to strike but will dock a vacation day if they do. 

The Interior Ministry and Tel Aviv Municipality have instructed their employees to wear black in solidarity with the strike.

Universities, the Israel Airports Authority and the Israeli post office have also joined the strike, as have over 70 businesses and dozens of major corporations including Google Israel, Facebook Israel, Bank Hapoalim, Yes satellite television, Nespresso Israel and many others. 

The strike comes in the wake of last week’s murders of two girls – Silvana Tsegai, 12, in south Tel Aviv and Yara Ayoub, 16, in Jish. Theirs were the 23rd and 24th murders of women and girls in Israel this year, which represents a sharp escalation in such slayings compared to last year.

A demonstration protesting violence against women in front of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's residence in Jerusalem, November 27, 2018.
Emil Salman

The strike will culminate in a main protest event in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square Tuesday evening. A march will leave Levinski Park in south Tel Aviv to Rabin Square in solidarity with the asylum seeker population that resides heavily in that area and with the murder of Tsegai. At 10 AM 24-minutes of silence will be held in protest of the 24 women murdered this year. 

>> Arab voices raised as local Israeli authorities join nation-wide women's strike to protest violence ■ Murder of 12-year-old girl shows human rights in Israel are only for Jews | Analysis

On Monday, activists dyed the water in fountains across Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa in protest of the government's disregard for women's lives.

On Sunday morning, several demonstrators blocked traffic in Tel Aviv, saying that the government was indifferent to the abuse of women.

Another rally took place outside the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, during a cabinet meeting. Ten women held up banners with the following words: “Prime Minister Netanyahu, wake up! The blood of women is not cheap, don’t allow us to die. Violence starts in the corridors of power.”

The demonstrators poured red paint on the road leading into the ministry and lay on it. Policemen arrived and wrote the women up for violations of the law before removing them.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein instructed that women employees who want to strike on Tuesday be approved to do so. "I have instructed the Knesset committees to hold discussions on the topic of violence against women this week and to allow women to strike," he said. "The Knesset will do everything it can to raise awareness to this issue and fight against it."

Histadrut Chairman Avi Nissenkorn announced that he was allowing employees wishing to attend Tuesday’s rallies to miss work without losing a day’s wages. He called on other employers to do likewise.

The Social Workers’ Union is joining the protest as well, with its members expected to attend the rally in Tel Aviv. The union’s chairwoman, Inbal Hermoni, called on the government to immediately transfer the 250 million shekels ($67 million) it had committed to allocate to an emergency plan for prevention of violence against women.

President Reuven Rivlin said on his Twitter account that female employees of the President’s Residence will be able to join the strike. Harel Toubi, director general of the residence, said he viewed the campaign for ensuring the safety of women as a necessary and worthy one, and that “the presidential residence sees itself as a partner in taking steps necessary for the protection of the dignity and status of women.”

Interior Ministry Director-General Mordechai Cohen asked the Civil Service Commissioner to approve a strike by female employees. The ministry called on local authorities to abide by the law and wait for the opinion of legal advisers before approving a strike without docking anyone’s pay. “The ministry identifies with the women’s protest against violence,” said an announcement on the ministry’s behalf.

Many local authorities announced that they would join the strike, including Kiryat Yam, Rehovot, Sderot, Ashdod, Zichron Yaakov, Nesher and Acre.

Microsoft Israel announced that its employees would wear black “in solidarity with all women suffering from violence, in Israel and around the world.” The Superpharm drugstore chain announced that it would allow its employees to join the strike without losing a day’s pay, as long as its operations aren’t damaged.

The strike was initiated by a group called “I’m a woman, I’m striking” and a “Red Flag” coalition numbering more than 50 feminist groups. According to protest organizers, “This is our time for taking to the streets and giving voice to the problem. On Tuesday we’re all striking. We’re in the midst of a show of force by women, one which gives hope, and we won’t remain quiet until women’s lives are put at the top of the national agenda.”