Six Injured in Stabbing Attack at Jerusalem Gay Pride March

Six people have been injured in a stabbing attack at Jerusalem’s gay pride march, according to police.

According to initial reports the stabber – identified as a haredi Jewish man – has been arrested at the scene.

Emergency services say that an unspecified number of the victims are in “serious” condition.

Several thousand of participants at the 13th annual Jerusalem Pride Parade were marching along Keren Hayesod Street when the knifeman apparently broke through a police cordon to attack them.

The annual gay pride march through Jerusalem has been the source of heated controversy, due to the city’s holy status to Jews, Christians and Muslims.

Since the 1990s, gay activist groups have held an annual mega-parade in the largely-secular Tel Aviv. However, in 2002 they began holding a smaller, far more contentious mach through Jerusalem, amid bitter opposition from the city’s largely traditional and religious residents.

Unlike the Tel Aviv event, the Jerusalem march is usually met with loud counter-protests. In 2005 tensions boiled over when a haredi extremist stabbed three participants before being arrested by police.

In recent years, however, protests have been smaller as some haredi leaders urged their followers to stay away from what they term the “abomination parade” altogether.

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  1. Joe Levin
    Joe Levin says:

    At least six people were stabbed at Jerusalem’s annual Gay Pride Parade on Thursday.

    One woman was critically wounded, Magen David Adom emergency services reported, adding that two men were moderately wounded, and another two men and a woman suffered light wounds. All the wounded were about 30 years old.

    Police confirmed that the suspected stabber is Yishai Schlissel, a Haredi man from Modiin Ilit who stabbed three participants in the 2005 Gay Pride march. He was recently released from prison after serving a 10-year sentence. Schlissel was convicted of attempted murder and aggravated assault and was sentenced to 12 years in prison. In 2007, following an appeal, the Supreme Court mitigated his sentence to 10 years.

    After his release, Schlissel returned to his hometown, where residents said that he distributed hand-written pamphlets in which he called on “all Jews faithful to God” to risk “beatings and imprisonment” for the sake of preventing the parade.

    The Judea and Samaria Police District said they were not supposed to track Schlissel after his release, even though he resides in their jurisdiction, because his crime was perpetrated in the Jerusalem district.

    Magen David Adom emergency services treated the victims on the scene, and then rushed them to three different hospitals in Jerusalem.

    According to witnesses, the assailant emerged behind the marchers and began stabbing them while screaming. A police officer then managed to tackle him to the ground and arrest him.

    The attack took place on Keren Hayesod Street in Jerusalem. Afterward, parade organizers decided to continue the march.

    The annual pride march began calmly. The police cordoned off protesters and used buses to separate them from the marchers. The streets were mostly empty save for the marchers.

    Some 5,000 people were expected to hit the streets of the capital for the parade.

    Starting in the afternoon, hundreds of police, Border Police and volunteers were set to fan out along the parade route and assembly areas, making sure the marchers would be able to parade in peace.

    Police had granted a permit to 30 right-wing activists to protest against the event near the Great Synagogue, not far from the marchers. Earlier on Thursday, Israel Police arrested right-wing extremist Baruch Marzel though they denied the arrest had anything to do with the city’s annual Gay Pride Parade. Marzel is a member of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party and usually takes part in the annual protest against the parade.

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the stabbing was a very serious event, and promised that the state will bring the full weight of the law against the suspects.

    “In the state of Israel the individual’s freedom of choice is one of basic values. We must ensure that in Israel, every man and woman lives in security in any way they choose. That’s how we acted in the past and how we’ll continue to act. I wish the wounded a speedy recovery,” he said in a statement.

    Benzi Gopstein, chairman of the right-wing group Lehava, said that while activists from the organization staged a protest against the “abomination parade,” they “oppose the stabbing of Jews.” He called on the police not to allow the parade to take place in Jerusalem again.

    Opposition leader Isaac Herzog called the stabbing a “heinous hate crime” and urged the police to allow gay pride events to go on. “Don’t give in to the enemies of everything that’s good and beautiful about Israel,” he said in a Facebook message.

    Education Minister and Habayit Hayehudi chairman Naftali Bennett called the stabbing a “moral crime that cannot be forgiven.”

    “Whoever did it harmed Jewish and moral values, and must be punished with the utmost severity. When events are clarified Israeli society must do some soul searching to understand how it has come to this,” Bennett said.

    The Israeli National LGBT Task Force severely condemned the attack, saying that “they feel shocked that serious violent incidents such as this still happen in Israel in 2015.”

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