Outrage after judge agrees to anonymity request of man accused of stabbing wife

Victim wants name revealed so ‘everyone knows what he did’; police say may be more victims; judge agrees to suspect’s request ‘not to ruin reputation’; activists name him online

Shira (L) and her husband (R) accused of attacking her on September 18, 2020 (Courtesy/Screen grab)
Shira (L) and her husband (R) accused of attacking her on September 18, 2020 (Courtesy/Screen grab)

Anger grew on Saturday over a judge’s decision a day earlier to grant anonymity to a man accused of repeatedly stabbing his wife in front of their toddler son, with thousands liking and retweeting online posts with the name of the suspect.

Police said they planned to appeal the decision.

The man is accused of stabbing his wife 20 times and hitting her with a rolling pin on the eve of the Rosh Hashanah holiday at their home in the southern town of Mitzpe Ramon, all in the presence of their two-year-old child.

The woman, named only as “Shira,” told the Ynet news site that she wanted her husband’s name revealed “so that the whole country will know what he did.”

Additionally, a spokesperson for the police told the outlet that publicly naming the suspect could also lead to the possibility of other women filing complaints.

A Mitzpe Ramon resident suspected of stabbing his wife on September 18, 2020 (Screenshot/Channel 12)

However, the Beersheba Magistrate’s Court ruled on Friday, during a hearing to extend the remand of the suspect, that his identity should remain hidden, with Judge George Amorai accepting his argument that he should be given the opportunity to remain anonymous.

“They may find surprising things. It’s the easiest thing to ruin a reputation and a 45-year career, give me this chance,” the suspect asked the judge.

“Thank you very much, you said important things,” Amorai responded.

Lawyers for Shira expressed their outrage over the decision.

“The court’s decision to ban the publication of the suspect’s name is in complete violation of the provisions of the law,” said attorneys Ben Maoz and Haim Shukrani.

“The stabber’s claim that he will ‘have his reputation damaged’ as a result of the publication [of his name] is ridiculous,” the lawyers said. “We would suggest that he create a ‘new reputation’ for himself that will serve him within the prison walls. The days of grace given by the court to the suspect will end very soon.”

In response to the ruling, a number of women’s groups and individuals published the man’s name and image online.

Michal Sela, who was found stabbed to death at her home outside Jerusalem on October 3, 2019

“The judge decided to accept the killer’s [sic] request and not the victim’s request! The judge insists on defending the reputation of a murder suspect who was caught with a rolling pin and a knife after stabbing his wife 20 times!” wrote Lily Ben Ami, the sister of Michal Sela who was killed by her husband last year.

Ben Ami named the suspect in her social media post.

Bracha Barad of the feminist Kulan organization tweeted the man’s name repeatedly, with a follow-up message “I saved you having to go onto Facebook to check.”

Hagit Pe’er, head of the Na’amat women’s advocacy group, called on the police to appeal the judge’s ruling, saying it sent a dangerous message to victims of domestic violence.

“It is an unreasonable decision that sends all the wrong messages. The judge’s message to women suffering from violence is that they should sit quietly and not exhibit the ‘good name’ of those who abuse them,” Pe’er said to the Kan public broadcaster.

Shira, 31, underwent emergency surgery at Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center after being allegedly stabbed by her husband on September 18.

Police had arrived at the scene after neighbors reported hearing screams and found her wounded on the floor of the couple’s house.

Her husband, a 45-year-old electrical engineer working in the defense industry, was arrested.

The home in Mitzpe Ramon where a husband stabbed his wife while she was on a video call with her parents on Friday, September 18, 2020. Screenshot/Channel 12

According to Ynet, Shira thanked her neighbors for intervening and saving her life, and described to her family and police investigators the way her husband allegedly stabbed her, asking, “Why did he do this to me?”

A witness told Channel 12 news that he ran to the couple’s home after hearing the screams and saw the husband covered in blood, still holding the knife.

“I pleaded with him. I said ‘please don’t kill her, please don’t kill her,’” the witness said.

Police said they had a file on the couple after a previous incident of domestic violence in 2019. The woman’s brother said she had filed a complaint that she later withdrew, after their respective families intervened and got them to reconcile.

“In retrospect, this was a huge mistake,” he said.

Police and social services organizations have reported a major rise in domestic violence complaints since the start of the coronavirus crisis.

In June, thousands of Israelis gathered at a demonstration in Tel Aviv to demand government action to end violence against women. It was the second such protest in less than a month.

Israelis protest against violence towards women, in Tel Aviv on June 1, 2020. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The rally came as the Welfare and Social Services Ministry published figures that showed a 112 percent increase in the number of complaints about domestic violence it received to its hotline in May compared to April.

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