The trial for murder and six counts of attempted murder of Yishai Schlissel, who stabbed participants in the July Gay Pride Parade in the capital, on Sunday opened in the Jerusalem District Court.
The stabbings horrified the country, garnered across-the-board condemnation from Israeli society, including from Orthodox religious figures, and drew international attention due to the ferocity of the attack and the footage that emerged of it.
Schlissel, who was previously imprisoned for 10 years for stabbing three people at the 2005 Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade, was arrested during the stabbing rampage, just weeks after being released from jail.
He allegedly killed 16-year-old Shira Banki and wounded six others, who were named as Yarden Noy, Kfir Gil, Noam Eyal, Yael Belkin, Sagiv Satkolshtick and Sheli Bar Niv.
The prosecution’s first witness against Schlissel, Eran Tzidkiyahu testified about having witnessed Schlissel’s carnage and stated that if he had not been Haredi, he would have been shot on the spot as soon as security noticed he was holding a knife.
Tzidkiyahu said, “a month and a half later, every person who unsheathes a knife, they shoot him even after he ceases to present a threat to civilians.”
In his opening statement, Schlissels’ lawyer, Public Defender Zecharyah Shinkolovsk, tried to argue that he had not intended to murder the people he attacked even if he might have intended to harm them on some lesser level.
Prosecution lawyer Oshrat Shoham disputed this argument, noting that Schlissel has not given a detailed written denial to the indictment and that they would call witnesses showing that the fashion in which Schlissel attacked was violent and with intent to murder.
At the arraignment in September, Schlissel continued a position of refusing to recognize the court’s authority, stating “God, the creator of the world, did not give you authority to judge me, and so I am not interested in asking questions or responding to them.”
When the court asked him to stand – as is customary when addressing the court – he refused, and stated, “I am not interested in getting up.”
Despite Schlissel’s continued refusal to agree to have the Public Defender’s Office represent him, or to accept any legal representation, the court in September ordered the public defender present to continue to speak for him in court.
Schlissel has refused legal representation since he considers that it would be an acknowledgment of the validity of the court proceedings against him.
The indictment stated that leading up to the parade, Schlissel had called on ultra-Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem and Modi’in Illit to take action against it, and that on the day of the parade he purchased a 15 cm.-long kitchen knife for the purpose of stabbing participants.
Schlissel’s first attempt at infiltrating the parade was stopped by police. He manged to gain entry and launch the attack by joining it from a different street.