In Israel, Over a Third of Women Killed by Partners Had Complained to Police

Over the past decade, 126 women have been killed by their domestic partners, statistic show, with a disproportionate number of victims among immigrant women

Police attend the murder scene of Esther Abraham, murdered by her ex-husband in 2012.
Police attend the murder scene of Esther Abraham, murdered by her ex-husband in 2012. Moti Milrod

Half of the women killed in Israel by their domestic partners in recent years had been known to social welfare authorities and more than a third of the women had complained to the police about domestic violence, according to government figures.

Over the past decade, 126 women have been killed by their domestic partners, according to the statistics from the Israel Police and the Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Ministry, which were provided to the Knesset’s Research and Information Center. Notable is the disproportionate problem of domestic violence against immigrant women (defined as women who have come to Israel since 1989) and who constitute 27 percent of the total number of domestic violence files that have been opened. That’s a rate of 591 files per 100,000 immigrant women in the country compared to 504 per 100,000 non-immigrant Jewish women. This disparity has actually increased from 15 percent in 2006 to over 19 percent by 2016.

The disproportionate nature of the problem among immigrant women relates not only to murder but also attempted murder, manslaughter and negligent homicide. Over the past decade, domestic partners have killed 42 immigrant women, including 24 women born in the Soviet Union or former Soviet Union and 18 of Ethiopian origin.

The most recent murders of women who have lost their lives at the hands of a domestic partner or other family member occurred despite a new police practice instituted last year requiring that each of the country’s police stations maintain a list of women at risk from domestic violence. The procedure requires meetings every several months with social welfare authorities on each of the women’s cases, even if they have not filed an official complaint with the police. Some of the women who were murdered had spent time in women’s shelters. Others, however, had been offered to move to a shelter and had refused.

Regarding Israel’s general population, there were 240 attempted murders of women over the past decade; no charges were filed against the assailant in 70 percent of the cases. Data was also collected about violence against women in general. Between 2007 and 2016, 238 files were opened in cases involving attempted murder of women (excluding security-related offenses). There have been 25 attempted murders of women in Israel over the past five months alone, according to police data.

The identity of assailants in attempted murder cases is significantly different from those who actually murdered women. While half of the women murdered over the past decade were killed by either a domestic partner or other close family member, only a third of the cases of attempted murder involved suspects who were family members.

The Israel Police had refused a Freedom of Information Act from Haaretz to receive information on women who had been killed by their partners and, who had complained to the police prior to their murders. Haaretz also asked for information on what steps were taken following the complaints. The police said in part that the information was confidential as investigative material and also could not be divulged because it would violate the privacy of the deceased.