Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli, who also chairs a new ministerial committee on gender equality, announced Sunday the allocation of NIS 155 million (approximately $50 million) for a national plan to combat violence against women.
“It’s about time we moved from talk to actions,” Michaeli said at the first meeting of the committee, formed last month.
She said violence against women should be viewed as a societal challenge that requires protection and aid for victims.
“From here on, we need to put the NIS 155 million to use in treatment, education, law enforcement — all those things that will stop this dreadful violence and will allow us to move towards equality and life without violence,” she said.
Michaeli also said the government is working on a legislation that would recognize and act against economic abuse, in which finances are used as an abusive form of control.
“It is not a matter of opinion; it is not something that happens accidentally. It is simply violence… even if it is carried out through economic means,” she said.
Activists have long complained that not enough is done to prevent domestic violence in Israel, particularly in cases where the family is known to authorities.
In July, Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman ordered NIS 55 million ($17 million) be immediately allotted to efforts to prevent and treat domestic violence.
The money has been earmarked to partially fund the Welfare Ministry’s National Plan for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, which was approved in 2017 but has seen less than half the designated funds transferred for its implementation.
Police and social services organizations have reported a major rise in domestic violence complaints since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a report published by the Women’s International Zionist Organization last week, 26 women in Israel were murdered in 2020, with 13 of them killed by their partners. That is an increase from 17 women murdered in 2019, with five of those killed by their partners.
So far in 2021, says WIZO, 20 women have been murdered in Israel.
Statistics published by the Welfare and Social Affairs Ministry on Wednesday showed an increase in calls to the ministry’s domestic violence hotline this year.
According to the figures, 7,977 calls were made to the hotline through the end of October, an increase of 10 percent over the same period last year. Of those calls, 4,382 were to report violence against a woman by her partner.
The hotline, which can be reached by dialing 118, is available in Hebrew, Arabic, English, Russian and Amharic.
The figures were released ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which is marked around the world on November 25.
Amy Spiro contributed to this report.