The rally was the culmination of a day of strikes and protests against domestic abuse after 24 women were murdered over the past year.
Thousands of women went on strike and went out on the streets to protest.
The day's events began early Tuesday morning, when activists from NA'AMAT-Movement of Working Women & Volunteers "replaced" the names of main streets in Tel Aviv with the names of the women who were murdered. In addition, a display of red shoes covered Habima Square in the city, and some 150 men and women wearing black and carrying coffins took part in a "mourning march."
Protesters in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv blocked main roads, while road blocking at Ben-Gurion Airport caused delays to nine flights.
Demonstrations also took place in many towns and cities in the Arab sector. Dozens of men and women in Tira, Qalansawe and Tayibe protested throughout the day. They held up photos of women who were murdered and demanded to continue the struggle and put an end to domestic violence. A joint Jewish-Arab demonstration took place at the Givat Haviva Junction.
The protest reached academia as well, with some 1,000 students taking part in a demonstration outside Tel Aviv University as classes were halted for an hour. A similar number of students also protested at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, at both the Mount Scopus and Givat Ram campuses. Protest events also took place at Haifa University and Bar-Ilan University, among other higher education institutions.
At the Rabin Square rally, Ortal Shafak, the daughter of Aliza Shafak who was murdered by her husband two months ago, spoke about her mother: "The more she tried to get away from him, the more he tried to get closer and closer. And the more he realized he was losing her and she was choosing her own freedom, the more he grew to understand that she could live without him. But he... what is he? He's nothing without her."
"Two months ago it was my mother who was murdered, who was taken away from her loved ones just because she wanted to be free. Tomorrow it could be any one of us!" Shafak said. "More than 20 women were murdered this year by someone they knew. I see women fighting tooth and nail to pass bill proposals, which are rejected out of hand; women who are trying to promote anything that could help even a little and save our lives."
She called on authorities not to settle for ankle monitors on violent men. "A man known to authorities for being violent must be required by law to attend anger management workshops, be in therapy, and be removed from home for a certain period of time while he receives treatment. Because today it might be a slap or a threat, but there might not be a tomorrow for that woman," she said.
Shayma Rifi, whose sister Dua'a Abu Sharkh was shot to death in Lod in 2016, criticized the use of the term "honor killing."
"The use of the term 'honor killing' for every murder of an Arab woman is not in line with reality a lot of the times, especially in my sister Dua'a's case, and it causes an injustice to the Arab women and their families," she said.
"A lot of women in Israel live in fear and don't know if they'll see tomorrow. Over 50 percent of cases were closed due to a lack of evidence or lack of public of interest. About half of the women who were murdered first turned to authorities or the police and complained, and ended up being murdered!" she bemoaned.
Ayala Yatmar, whose sister was murdered by her husband in 2003, called for official recognition to the families of murdered women. "We, the families of the murdered women, seek recognition and support—emotional and economic—to deal with the pain of daily life. We also want severe punishment to the murderers. A man with blood on his hands, who took a life, cannot retain his full rights," she said.
She too urged the state to invest money and resources into combating domestic abuse.
The rally featured feminist leaders and prominent public figures such as Malka Piotrkowsky, the executive director of the Israel Women's Network Michal Gera Margaliot, the head of the Eritrean Women's Community Center Eden Tesfamariam, social activist Maisam Jaljuli and others.
Amir Alon, Roi Rubinstein, Adir Yanko and Noam Barkan contributed to this story.