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Israel women’s march ‘made history’

Tens of thousands of demonstrators in Tel Aviv were told they “made history” by organisers of Tuesday’s protests and strikes to demand a tougher government response to domestic violence against women after two teenage girls were murdered last week.

Twenty four women have been killed this year in Israel as a result of domestic violence. To commemorate the women killed, demonstrators held a 24 minute silence at 10am on Tuesday.

In Habima Square, Tel Aviv, 200 red-painted shoes were displayed as part of the day of action, to represent the lives lost to domestic violence in the past decade. Criticising the government, Yasmin Wachs, who was involved in the project, said “We are demanding a budget, which had been promised but got stalled, of 250 million shekels ($67 million) for the emergency program to prevent violence against women.” Wachs was referring to an emergency programme to combat domestic violence against women announced by the government in 2017 for which funding has yet to be secured.

At a Cabinet meeting, Netanyahu called violence against women “terrorism” and added, “we have to take both sides: compassion and help; and on the other hand, a punch in the face of these abusive men.” The Prime Minister convened the ministerial committee on violence against women on Wednesday, the second committee formed to look at the issue.

In a message of support, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin tweeted out images of protesters and allowed female employees of the President’s Residence to join the strike.

The strike was widely supported, including by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Histadrut Chairman Avi Nissenkorn and Inbal Hermoni of the Social Workers’ Union; the employees of all three were allowed to strike. Condemning the failure to reduce domestic violence, the Zionist Union brought a no-confidence motion against the government on Monday, although it was boycotted by the coalition and did not pass.