Half of Women Killed by Partners This Year in Israel Had Complained to Police

Restraining orders and shelters often fail to protect victims of violence, according to new figures presented Tuesday to the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women.

A woman without residency status at a women's shelter, February 2016.
Tomer Appelbaum

Almost half of the 21 women murdered by their partner this year had filed a previous complaint of violence by their partner, according to new figures presented Tuesday to the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women.

In almost 10 percent of the protective orders issued against men for violence against their spouses, the men violated the order, according to the figures – 500 violations this year so far out of 7,000 such orders issued.

Duaa Abu Srach, 32, of Lod, who was killed in front of her four children six weeks ago, had filed a number of complaints with local social services. Two years before she was murdered, her ex-partner abducted her and tried to murder her, but she managed to escape. The authorities suggested to her three times that she move to a battered women’s shelter. Social services reported to the police that her life was in danger and that she had declined to move to a shelter. However, no effective steps were taken to keep her violent partner away from her.

Another murder victim, Anastasia Rusonov, 29, had complained to the police of violence by her ex-partner. While she was filing the complaint, she received a text message from him saying: “I know you are at the police station. Leave.” After she showed the police the text message, they moved her to a shelter. She was murdered a few days after leaving the shelter.

According to the figures presented yesterday, 22 percent of women who are referred to shelters leave them within a week, in most cases still under threat. A number of women who had been in shelters told Haaretz that they no longer wanted to hide in a shelter that was not in their hometown, leaving their jobs and taking their children out of school, when the man threatening them walks around freely.

Also at yesterday’s meeting at the Knesset, the Inter-Ministerial Committee for the Prevention of Family Violence presented its recommendations. Among them are an expansion of services to protect women who are threatened, and enforcement of protective orders by electronic surveillance that would warn when a man has violated a protective order. Another recommendation is to increase treatment possibilities for men who are violent against their partners.

The police responded: “The police take every complaint or information in this area very seriously. Complaints are handled expertly and with determination, in cooperation with all parties and law enforcement agencies, by specially trained investigators. Every murder is investigated both by the police and the inter-ministerial committee. But it should be made clear that nothing whatsoever in a statistic in and of itself can attest to the nature of the complaint or how it is dealt with when it is filed.”