Ultra-Orthodox Israeli Stabs 6 at a Gay Pride Parade for Second Time, Police Say

The New York Times/July 30, 2015

By Isabel Kershner

Jerusalem -- An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man who had recently been released from prison after serving 10 years for stabbing participants in the annual Gay Pride Parade here in 2005 struck again Thursday, stabbing six marchers in this year’s parade, according to the police.

Two of the victims were in serious condition, according to the emergency services. The assailant, Yishai Schlissel, was pinned to the ground on a central Jerusalem street and arrested by police officers who were stationed along the route, the police said.

Mr. Schlissel wounded three marchers a decade ago at a spot not far from Thursday’s attack and was convicted of attempted murder. He was said to have told the police that he had come “to kill in the name of God.” He was released from prison a month ago.

Jerusalem’s annual Gay Pride Parade has long stirred strong emotions in the city, with many Orthodox Jews objecting to the public display, saying that it defiles the city and offends many of its residents. An ultra-Orthodox news website referred to it on Thursday as “the Parade of Abomination.” There has also been criticism from Muslim and Christian quarters in the past.

Jerusalem’s Gay Pride Parade, a smaller event than the annual parade in Tel Aviv, went ahead one year after a court order, over the objections of the City Council. It has occasionally been confined to a stadium as a compromise.

But Israeli officials often hold up the country’s record of tolerance toward gay and lesbian citizens as a badge of honor and as evidence of Israeli democracy, pointing out that other governments in the region are more oppressive.

“In Israel everyone, including the gay community, has the right to live in peace, and we will defend that right,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a televised statement. He described Thursday’s attack as “a despicable hate crime.”

An eyewitness, Noa Zinger, told Israeli television that she had felt someone pushing and then seen an ultra-Orthodox man stabbing someone next to her. “He told us to get out of the way so that he could escape,” she said.

si Aharoni, a spokesman for the Jerusalem police, said the police had prepared meticulously for this year’s parade with a large presence along the route, including officers on horseback and special forces. “But to our regret, despite the massive police presence, a man succeeded in breaking through the lines and stabbing marchers,” he said.

Yet the police faced criticism for not having kept a closer watch on Mr. Schlissel. “This is a disgrace for the police,” one protester shouted as the Jerusalem district police chief, Moshe Edry, spoke at a televised news conference. “The same man in the same place — the police did not do their job,” the protester added.

In an interview with an ultra-Orthodox radio service nearly two weeks ago, Mr. Schlissel said: “The battle is not over. Those unclean people want to continue defiling Jerusalem.”

 Asked about the coming parade he added, “To protest is an obligation in my opinion, but it is not enough.” The goal, he said, must be “to disperse them, even by force.”

The Jerusalem Open House, an organization that supports gay, lesbian, bisexual and, transgender residents of the city, said in a statement: “All we ask and expect is that LGBTQ people are free and safe to live in Jerusalem. This is only a sign we need to continue our work and our marches.”

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