Israeli political and religious leaders reacted with horror and condemnation following the stabbing of six participants at yesterday’s gay pride march in Jerusalem.
The attacker was an ultra-Orthodox man who had only recently been released from a prison sentence for carrying out an almost identical stabbing at the same event ten years ago. Yesterday, he struck as the march passed the corner of Keren Hayesod and Sokolow streets in the centre of the city. He injured six people, two seriously before being overpowered by security forces who arrived promptly on the scene.
While the Tel Aviv gay pride march is one of the largest in the world, attracting around 180,000 people last month, the Jerusalem event has long been a point of tension with the city’s large ultra-Orthodox community.
Following yesterday’s attack, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “Justice will be dealt” to those responsible and that “In the State of Israel, an individual’s freedom of choice is one of the country’s most basic values.” President Reuven Rivlin said “we must condemn those who commit and support” an attack on “people celebrating their freedom and expressing their identity.”
Education Minister Naftali Bennett, leader of Jewish Home said that he would “dramatically” increase funding for a group which supports LGBT youth. He commented, “I will not agree to have youth in the state of Israel afraid to go out into the street due to their way of life.” Meanwhile, opposition leader Isaac Herzog said “The stabbings at the gay pride parade are a heinous hate crime. The person who perpetrated them should be denounced and punished with full severity and force.”
Israel’s Chief Rabbis also swiftly condemned the attack. Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau commented, “The Torah of the Jewish people forbids all violence and [attempts to] injure any person.” Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef said, “It’s unthinkable that a man can lift up his hand against another Jewish soul in the name of religion.”