Ex-justice minister decries 'wretched and unjustified' move

Ministers delay by 6 months bill on electronic tagging of domestic violence offenders

Ben Gvir says government-backed version being prepared instead of bill advanced by previous coalition; men’s rights groups invited to discussions alongside women’s right’s groups

Michael Bachner is a news editor at The Times of Israel

A protest against domestic violence as part of a nationwide strike, in Tel Aviv, December 4, 2018. The sign reads: 'Electronic tracking [of offenders] saves lives.' (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
A protest against domestic violence as part of a nationwide strike, in Tel Aviv, December 4, 2018. The sign reads: 'Electronic tracking [of offenders] saves lives.' (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The government decided Sunday to delay by six months all discussions on a bill advanced by the previous coalition that would introduce electronic tracking of domestic violence offenders.

The decision was made by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, whose session was led this week by National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, who was filling in for Justice Minister Yariv Levin, whose father died on Sunday.

As opposition figures condemned the delay, Ben Gvir’s office reportedly said a government-backed version of the bill was being prepared instead — a version that appeared set to include an increased emphasis on protecting men from false accusations.

Under the original proposed legislation, GPS technology would be used to ensure that an offender does not come within a distance specified by a restraining order.

The law, proposed by then-justice minister Gideon Sa’ar — now an opposition member — is regarded by professionals as life-saving, the Haaretz news site reported Sunday.

National Unity MK Pnina Tamano-Shata last month asked Levin to have the government adopt the previous coalition’s bill, which passed a first reading in the Knesset before elections were called. Such a move would allow the legislative process to continue where it was stopped, meaning it would only require two more plenum votes to pass into law.

Sa’ar himself reacted to Sunday’s decision by calling it “wretched and unjustified,” saying it would “prevent the saving of women’s and children’s lives.”

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir at a Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem on February 15, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Ben Gvir’s office said it was “working on a government bill on the matter,” citing a discussion held last week with women’s rights groups and — for the first time — men’s rights groups.

“There is no point in a private bill when there is a government bill,” the office said, according to Haaretz.

The outlet said that during last week’s discussion, Ben Gvir said: “We have a consensus that anyone who harms a woman is scum of the earth, and we have a consensus that we absolutely mustn’t allow men to be tormented once a woman files a false accusation against him. The question is the balance point.”

A report released in November by the Welfare and Social Affairs Ministry showed that between January and October of 2022, the ministry received 5,712 complaints of domestic violence — a 3.6 percent increase over the previous year.

Police remove protesters blocking traffic in Tel Aviv amid nationwide protests and strikes against domestic violence, December 4, 2018. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)

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% increase.

According to the Israel Observatory on Femicide, 24 women last year were “murdered because they were women,” a 50% rise over the 16 such murders recorded in 2021. Half of those murders were in the Arab community, which makes up just 21% of the population.

While data is scarce on false domestic violence accusations, researchers around the world agree that the number of actual assaults far outweighs the number of false claims. Additionally, there is the issue of unreported assaults, which aren’t included in the official statistics.

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