A Year Later, Israel's Plan to Fight Domestic Violence Lacks Funds

'This shows how cabinet ministers are making a mockery of the issue of women being murdered,' says MK Aida Touma-Sliman, chairwoman of the Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality

Lee Yaron
Lee Yaron
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A murder scene in Jaffa, after two sisters were killed by their brother, on May 17, 2018.
A murder scene in Jaffa, after two sisters were killed by their brother, on May 17, 2018.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Lee Yaron
Lee Yaron

The government’s plan to fight domestic violence has yet to receive a budget despite promises to earmark 250 million shekels ($67 million) over five years when it was approved a year ago.

According to the Knesset Research and Information Center, it is therefore impossible to gauge how much of the plan will be implemented in the coming years.

“It is difficult to estimate the extent of the overall budget intended for carrying out the plan, or how much money will be added to an already earmarked budget,” the research center said.

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The center gathered data on behalf of the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality.

The plan was approved in July 2017, three years after an interministerial committee was established to battle Israel’s growing domestic-violence problem.

The Finance Ministry said the cabinet’s decision was about adopting the plan in principle without going into budgetary details. Thus the decision did not require the earmarking of a budget, the ministry said.

“In the absence of data we cannot check whether the program was funded in accordance with the presented plan, and whether any budget was used for the program in 2017 and 2018,” the Knesset Research and Information Center said.

“In the past year the cabinet has approved cuts to government ministries for 2018 and 2019, so we must examine whether these cuts affect the funding for this program.”

The plan had called for 47 million shekels to be allotted in 2018 for efforts including an increase in the number of social workers, police stations and domestic-violence investigators. But according to the research center, a much smaller sum has been allotted, though it is unclear how much.

The Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Ministry received around 12 million shekels in 2018 for the program and 9 million shekels has been earmarked for 2019.

The Public Security Ministry, which was supposed to provide the program about 35 million shekels a year, could not provide data on how the program was being funded, saying the details were still being worked out.

MK Aida Touma-Sliman, chairwoman of the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality, was highly critical during a committee debate when the Finance Ministry said 30 million shekels would not be budgeted for the program in 2019; instead, that sum would be spread out over three years.

“This is a huge scandal. At one moment they say they’re going to give the Social Affairs Ministry another 30 million shekels in 2019, and now it turns out that it’s an accumulative 30 million,” Touma-Sliman said.

“This shows how cabinet ministers are making a mockery of the issue of women being murdered,” she said, adding that she would demand a commission of inquiry “and that the ministers should know they bear responsibility for the next murder that happens.”

The research center has also found that 35 women were killed by their spouses in 2016 and 2017. Seventeen of them had already complained to the police about violence.

Last year, Haaretz found that of 126 women killed by their partners between 2006 to 2016, 35 percent had complained to the police and half of the cases were known to the welfare services.

In 2017, 17,587 police files were opened over domestic-violence incidents, including 26 cases of murder or attempted murder, 300 sexual assaults, 7,700 other assaults and 7,600 threats.

Eleven percent of case files were opened as a result of complaints by women, 69 percent were opened after complaints by men, and in 20 percent of the cases appeals were made by both parties. Fourteen percent of suspects in these cases had more than one complaint against them.

Ninety-two percent of suspects had two or three complaints and 8 percent had four to 12 complaints made against them.

Seventy-seven percent of cases were about violence against Jewish women, and 23 percent were about violence against Christian, Muslim, Druze and Circassian women.

Twenty-one percent of women complaining of domestic assault were immigrants.

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