Police launched a manhunt Monday for a man suspected of stabbing his ex-wife to death after crashing into her car in the northern Arab Israeli city of Arraba.
The woman, 37, suffered critical injuries in the attack with multiple wounds to her chest and back.
She was taken to Poriya Hospital in Tiberias, where she was later pronounced dead.
Eyewitnesses said that after the car accident, the man and woman exited their vehicles and argued about who would take care of their children, the Ynet website reported. He then pulled out a knife and stabbed the woman.
Passersby reportedly tried to keep him away from the victim. The suspect then fled the scene in his car.
A mother of four children aged 12-18, the victim had for almost a year lived in a women’s shelter due to threats from her former husband, the Walla news website reported. Her name was not immediately released for publication.
Police initially thought that the incident began with a traffic accident between two strangers but an investigation quickly identified the woman’s ex-husband as the prime suspect, Hebrew media reported.
Police said in a statement they began searching for the man, bringing in additional forces and a helicopter to help with the search.
The suspect has a history of domestic violence that saw him serve six months in prison, Channel 12 news reported. He later violated the terms of his release and was given another six months on probation.
Another related domestic violence complaint was filed in October against the man, the report said.
MK Aida Touma-Sliman of the Joint List, an alliance of predominantly Arab Israeli parties, tweeted that if the reported details of the incident were accurate, it raises questions about the rehabilitation of violent criminals when they exit prison.
“If the murderer was indeed released from prison the failures once again rise up: Not enough rehabilitation, no follow-up of violent men, and still no electronic tagging — and the murder of women continues,” she wrote.
Since the beginning of the year 17 women and 71 men have been killed in the Arab Israeli community, Walla reported, citing figures from the Aman Center for Combating Violence in Arab Society.
At the end of October, a 46-year-old woman from northern Israel was stabbed and seriously injured in a suspected case of domestic violence, with her 54-year-old husband arrested hours later.
The attack occurred days after a pair of murders suspected to be cases of domestic violence brought the issue back to the spotlight, energizing a push for more government action against the phenomenon.
Violence against women in Israel has driven recent protests calling for reform.
Demonstrators highlight the fact that a national plan to fight domestic violence was approved in 2017 by the Knesset but has since been abandoned, waiting for funding. Activists say most of the approved NIS 250 million ($71 million) has not yet been transferred to relevant authorities.
Police and social services organizations have reported a major rise in domestic violence complaints since the start of the coronavirus crisis.