Protecting Israeli women: Law for abusers, drafted by Ben-Gvir and Levin, passes

The bracelet is seen as an alternative to jailing domestic abusers while better ensuring the safety of their potential victims.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A law to protect family members by mandating electronic bracelets for domestic abusers passed 44-0 in the Knesset Sunday right before the plenum recessed for three months.

The law was proposed by Justice Minister Yariv Levin and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who called it “better and more precise” than a similar bill proposed by the Opposition in March, which the government had nixed.

“It balances the vital need to fight and prevent domestic violence and our duty… to preserve the freedom of the innocent,” said Ben-Gvir after the vote was taken.

The main argument against the Opposition’s bill had been that it “could have led to false complaints,” he explained.

Several female members of the coalition broke down in tears when the original bill fell by only a single vote.

Under the terms of the new law, a risk assessment must first be made to see if the alleged abuser poses a “real and serious danger” to his family member’s life. This would include examination of the abuser’s history, such as past violent incidents or previous restraining orders being violated.

The bracelet is seen as an alternative to jailing suspected offenders, allowing them to live a normal life in all other ways, as well as a way to reduce somewhat the number of prisoners in the country’s overcrowded jails.

The law will only come into effect in a year; a special, outsourced civilian unit within the Israel Prison Service must first be established in order to learn how to supervise such court-ordered monitoring. It will also be a temporary law, with an initial time limit of three years, to test its efficacy in protecting family members – mostly women and minors – from domestic violence.

‘What if the quota runs out?’

There is also a caveat that the National Security minister has the authority to limit the number of devices to some 200 bracelets per year.

This restriction drew particular fire in the plenum, as MK Meirav Ben Ari (Yesh Atid), author of the original bill proposed in March, pointed out that “today, there are almost 1,000 women in shelters.” Opposition members who were present voted for the bill despite its flaws, they said, as it was at least “a step in the right direction.”

Lara Zinman, who heads the Organization of Family Members of Murder Victims, also complained about the limitation.

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“What if the quota of 200 runs out? The 201st woman will be the next murder victim,” she said. She also said that there was not enough time allowed to carry out the risk assessment, and these two drawbacks “will continue to endanger the lives of the women trapped in a cycle of violence.”

According to a Ynet report, only 300 such assessments will be carried out annually due to a shortage of personnel, while about 10,000 requests to issue a restraining order are filed in the Family Court per year, and some 700 cases are opened due to violation of an already-standing protection order.

Until now, upon being given a restraining order from the court, an abuser could not approach his victim, but nothing could be done except to call the police if he was seen contravening the order. It is envisioned that the ankle device, worn 24/7, could send a warning to either the monitoring authority or the victims themselves.

Last year, two dozen women in Israel were murdered by someone close to them, six more than in 2021.