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Domestic violence on the rise, but among Arab Israelis murder indictment rate is low

Welfare Ministry received 5,712 complaints of domestic violence since beginning of year, a 3.6% increase; ministry touts ‘innovative tools’ to address the trend

Demonstrators hold signs with images of women who have been killed as they protest against violence against women, in Tel Aviv on June 25, 2022 (Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90)
Demonstrators hold signs with images of women who have been killed as they protest against violence against women, in Tel Aviv on June 25, 2022 (Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90)

Domestic violence in Israel is on the rise, according to data released Monday by the Welfare and Social Affairs Ministry.

The report, prepared ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on Friday, November 25, shows that between January and October of this year the ministry received 5,712 complaints of domestic violence — a 3.6 percent increase over last year.

Among the reports, 3,432 were about violence directed against women in a relationship, 184 reports were made by men suffering from abuse in a relationship and 1,266 were about violence directed at children by a family member.

Data also showed that more people were seeking help from welfare centers that support victims of domestic violence. Throughout 2021 some 21,491 people sought help, compared to about 19,337 people in 2020 — an 11.14% increase.

But one segment of people seeking help has decreased since last year. Data shows that since January some 679 battered women have registered in shelters, compared to 738 last year — an 8% decrease. The Welfare Ministry said the decrease was likely the result of last year’s coronavirus quarantines, which caused a spike in women seeking to enter shelters.

Israelis light candles during a silent protest against cases of violence against women in Tel Aviv on February 9, 2021. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

“Domestic violence is one of the most difficult social phenomena of our time, but it is not unavoidable,” said Welfare and Social Affairs Minister Meir Cohen.

“As a society, it is our duty to oppose this phenomenon with all the means at our disposal. The Welfare and Social Affairs Ministry sees the treatment and prevention of violence as a top priority and as a result, we provide tools meant to help those suffering from domestic violence to cope with it in the best way possible,” he added.

Sigal Moran, director-general of the ministry, said the ministry was developing “innovative services for women and their families suffering from violence,” without elaborating.

While the government has steadily increased the budget invested in addressing domestic violence, it is still not enough to reach the goals defined in an inter-ministerial plan proposed in 2014 and implemented since 2017.

The budget increased from NIS 60 million ($17 million) in 2020 to NIS 105 million in 2021 and then to NIS 155 million this year, but is still far from the NIS 250 million ($72 million) required to implement it fully.

Minister of Welfare and Social Services Meir Cohen speaks during a press conference on regulating the rights of people with disabilities at the Knesset in Jerusalem on February 6, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

According to the Ynet news site, the budget expected to be approved for the plan next year will remain NIS 155 million.

Data released last week by the Knesset’s Information and Research Center showed that the rise in domestic violence is reflected not just in more complaints, but also in fewer indictments. The data was based on police reports.

The report pointed to a gap in the number of indictments and convictions in cases involving Jewish and Arab women.

Out of 35 murder cases of Arab women between 2020 and 2022, 16 indictments were served. In comparison, 25 Jewish women were murdered during the same time, resulting in 18 indictments.

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