Protesters Rallying Against Femicide in Israel Call to Resume Strike After Another Woman Murdered

As 25th female murder victim found stabbed in her home, organizers of nationwide strike call on women to stop their work for 25 minutes every day until government funds plan to combat domestic abuse

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Scene of suspected murder in Acre, December 11, 2018.
Scene of suspected murder in Acre, December 11, 2018.Credit: Rami Shllush

A week after Israel held a nationwide strike to protest femicide and domestic abuse targeting women, organizers are making a move to resume demonstrations hours after a woman was allegedly murdered on Tuesday.

Police said that the background to the death of Israeli Arab Imad Ahmed Awad has yet to clarified, but her husband, Mohammed Lababidi, has been arrested for suspected murder.

Emergency medical responders found the 29-year-old at her apartment in the northern city of Acre with stabbing wounds on her body earlier Tuesday. They tried to reresuscitate Awad, but later pronounced her dead.

The suspect's attorney confirmed that he was arrested on suspicion of murder but denied the allegations. "He has provided a detailed alibi and there were cameras around that can verify his version," he said.

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Awad's death brings the death toll of women murdered in Israel in 2018 to 25.

Organizers of last week's strike are calling on on all Israeli women in the work force to strike every day for 25 minutes, until the government approves the budget for a plan to battle domestic abuse. "Just a week ago women united to caution against this state of emergency. The government stayed quiet and today another woman was murdered. Starting tomorrow, every day at 10 A.M., we will all stop everything for 25 minutes... until the government meets our demands," they wrote.

Iman Ahmed Awad

The union representing high school teachers announced that it will join the protest, with teachers striking for 25 minutes starting Wednesday.

The chair of the union, Ran Erez, said: "As teachers and educators who lead the struggle against violence aimed at educational staff, we cannot stand silent. The union has already announced its support of the struggle led by the 'Red Flag' coalition," uniting feminist organizations in Israel demonstrating against violence aimed at women.

The protest was sparked after two teens were murdered in one week last month: The 16-year-old Israeli Arab Yara Ayoub from the Arab village of Jish in the Upper Galilee, and the 12-year-old Eritrean Silvana Tsagi, an asylum seeker from Tel Aviv.

The protest also lamented the Knesset's decision not to set up a parliamentary investigative committee to probe violence against women in Israel.

Protesters are demanding that the government fund the plans suggested by the committee dedicated to combating domestic abuse. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced that he is committed to executing existing plans, and has put Yoav Horowitz, his bureau's chief, and Deputy Finance Minister Yitzhak Cohen to the task of looking into the possibility of increasing the budgets allocated for existing plans.

MK Aida Touma-Suleiman (Joint List), the chair of the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality, spoke out Tuesday after news of Awad's murder broke: "The families who have lost their dearest, an hour ago, are families I know and I can't imagine how they will bear this pain."

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Demonstrators protest violence against women at Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, December 4, 2018.Credit: Meged Gozani

Touma-Suleiman added that the committee will convene Wednesday to discuss an amendment to the law that would redefine felonies associated with domestic abuse. "The murder of women is a gender crime. Women are murdered for being women and tomorrow we will ask for it to be determined that this crime should result in a life sentence, no less."

The couple's neighbors said that they recently married and moved to the neighborhood three months ago. One neighbor called Awad a "quiet and nice woman." According to her, Awad stopped working after she got married a second time, and had a young daughter who stayed with Iman's grandmother most of the time.

Last week, tens of thousands of women went on strike and protested throughout Israel. Marches and demonstrations took place across the country, and protest displays were set up in central spots. The protests began at 10 A.M. on Tuesday with hundreds of people standing in silence for 24 minutes to commemorate the 24 women who had been murdered since the beginning of the year, before Awad's death.

In the evening, 20,000 men and women participated at a protest at Tel Aviv's Rabin Square. Dozens of local authorities, public entities and commercial companies announced their support for the protest and let female employees go on strike or take a vacation day in order to participate in the protests.

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