Think Tank: 20 Percent of Israeli Prisoners Jailed for Domestic Violence

In early November, over 1,800 prisoners were serving domestic-violence sentences, including 116 convicted of incest.

One-fifth of Israel's civilian prisoners were arrested on charges of domestic violence, a Knesset think tank found after examining data from the Prison Service. About 400 prisoners behind bars for domestic violence had been jailed five or more previous times, although not all previous convictions were for domestic violence, according to the Knesset's Research and Information Center.

In early November, over 1,800 prisoners were serving domestic-violence sentences, including 116 convicted of incest. Half of the domestic-violence sentences were between one and five years, though 129 prisoners are serving life sentences for these offenses.

More than 60 percent of domestic-violence detainees have been convicted and jailed for previous domestic-violence offenses. More than 90 percent of domestic-violence prisoners released in 2008 had not qualified for parole.

There were almost 900 sex offenders in Israeli prisons in early November, a little over 10 percent of the prison population.

In the first 10 months of this year, 10 women were murdered by their domestic partners, according to police figures included in the document. This may turn out to be a slight drop from 2007, in which 13 women were killed by partners over the entire year, while one woman was killed in a "family honor" incident. The 614 rape complaints in the first 10 months of the year also constitute a slight drop from the 640 complaints in the same period last year.

The police open nearly 15,000 domestic-violence cases every year, most of which are closed for lack of evidence or lack of public interest. The number of partner-violence cases that reach the court system is dropping steadily from 3,000 in 2004 to just 1,850 last year.

However, domestic-violence victims continue to request around 600 protective injunctions annually. Nonetheless, only a quarter of men who violate these injunctions are arrested, or about 140 a year.

Meretz faction leader Zahava Gal-On is sponsoring legislation that would establish a dedicated jail for men who violate these injunctions, explaining that "these injunctions are not worth the paper they are printed on and women must be protected from partner terror."

Figures released by the Social Affairs Ministry revealed that 685 women and 1,035 children spent time in battered-women's shelters in 2007. Only 35 percent of those women were native Jewish-Israeli citizens. Twenty-nine percent of them were immigrants from the former Soviet Union, while 34 percent were from the Arab community. There were also 33 women in shelters who were illegal residents.

About 2,100 teenage girls were treated by social services in 2007, victims of rape, incest and other sex offenses. This represents a 27 percent increase over 2006. There was also a sharp increase last year in sexual-harassment complaints filed with the police, up 30 percent to 250, from the preceding year's 190. These figures are likely to increase substantially this year, with 250 sexual-harassment reports filed by the end of October, a pace of 300 annually.