William & Mary Journal of Race, Gender, and Social Justice


Hava Dayan


This Paper seeks to examine the legal framework in which the self-defense exception is applied in Israel in circumstances of domestic violence. The Paper scrutinizes the issue with reference to recent amendments to the Israeli Penal Code pertaining to the ‘castledefense’ which grants a person defending his home and property-wide protection from criminal liability. In light of these amendments, the lack of legislative harmony between the exception to criminal liability applied when defending property and the deficient protection afforded to victims of ongoing, severe domestic violence, is striking. Aside from a critical review of Israeli legislation on the issue, this Paper suggests an appropriate legal framework to apply the selfdefense exception in circumstances of domestic abuse. The proposal creates legal harmony within the self-defense exceptions in Israeli criminal law, taking the path of legislative amendments enacted recently in the Australian state of Victoria, as well as several states in the United States.