The Netanyahus visit WIZO center
The Netanyahus visit WIZO center Amos Ben Gershom/GPO

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara Netanyahu paid a visit Wednesday to the WIZO emergency shelter for female victims of domestic violence and their children.

The Netanyahus met with a number of women and talked to them. The WIZO emergency shelter was opened during the coronavirus period, which has seen an increase in rates of domestic violence.

"We came here for a heart-rending and very moving visit. We met here with two young mothers who found the courage to leave violent husbands, who even endangered their lives and the lives of their children, and came here to start new lives. This problem has increased during the coronavirus period. The coronavirus has also brought an upsurge in violence in the family; therefore, we have given a NIS 10 million supplement as first aid," Netanyahu said.

"But in the wake of this visit, and also following the event we had in the Knesset, I have already directed that the staff work be done on establishing an authority to deal with violence in the family. I must say that the one who has been encouraging me on this matter for many years is my wife Sara. This is her sixth visit to a battered women's shelter around the country, in all parts of the country, to say nothing of her regular work in which she comes into contact with families with problems of violence. Sara, I think that your encouragement is a very important part of the work that we have done and the major work that we have yet to do. There is a lot for us to do," he added.

"I would also say to the citizens of Israel, to the women, do not sit at home. Do not accept this as a given. It happens – take action, tell about it, report it, go out, you do not have to live like this, and we will do everything to help you," Netanyahu concluded.

Sara Netanyahu stated at the end of the visit: "In the framework of both my work and my many meetings, and when we met with the two young women who found the courage to take action and leave with their children, we see that stories pop up all the time about women who do not dare to take this step because they are concerned, and mainly because they know that the enforcement authorities will not help them, and their complaints only increase the violence of the violent man."

"Therefore, I think that the call we heard here and that we have heard on all of my visits over the years in the shelters for battered women and during my work, are to the enforcement authorities. When a women comes to complain, and even neighbors and friends, when there is violence in this or that home, or when a woman says about her husband that that he is threatening to kill her, this cannot be disdained, it must be taken seriously, and she must be helped. Women do not come to complain for no reason, only when it happens and when they find the courage," she said.

"Please, I appeal to all of the enforcement authorities, the courts and the police, take this seriously and help them leave. There are those who because they were not taken seriously, left home in plastic bags. This is sad. This awful killing and murder must be prevented because the red lights have been on the wall many times.

"Second, help them during the rehabilitation process to find work, immediately, because many times when they have no employment or livelihood, after an entire year of rehabilitation they go back to the abusive man. This is genuinely destructive and sometimes fatal," she concluded.

WIZO Chairperson Anita Friedman thanked the Prime Minister and his wife for visiting the shelter and for the recent steps that the Cabinet has declared to deal with the violence. "The women in the shelter have suffered from severe violence and repression and there are tens of thousands of women, and their children, like them. It is the responsibility of all of us to enable them to live with security and respect," she said.