An ultra-Orthodox Jew released from prison three weeks ago for attacking marchers at a gay pride rally 10 years ago stabbed six people in a repeat attack, wounding two seriously, police said.
Yishai Schlissel was subdued by police and arrested after emerging from the crowd in downtown Jerusalem and slashing at the victims, police spokeswoman Luba Samri said in a text message. Schlissel said two weeks ago in an interview on an ultra-Orthodox radio station that the parade “must be stopped” to protect the holy city of Jerusalem from “desecration,” Channel 2 television said in a report that included part of the knifing suspect’s broadcast remarks.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said security chiefs were trying to determine why authorities didn’t try to keep Schlissel away from the parade, given his history. Police had no information that he would repeat the attack and issued no order to keep him away, Samri said.
“A despicable hate crime was committed this evening in Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said in a text message. “In Israel, everybody, including the gay community, has the right to live their lives in security, and we will defend that right.”
Israel has promoted itself as the only Middle Eastern nation where the rights of homosexuals are protected. More than 100,000 people attended a gay pride parade last month in Tel Aviv, many of them tourists who came to the city because of its reputation for welcoming gay travelers.
The culture of tolerance is regularly condemned by ultra-Orthodox rabbis and media, which refers to the march as the “abomination parade.” In 2009, two people were killed and 15 injured in an attack at the Tel Aviv branch of the Israel Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Association.
The group’s current president said violence won’t stop the annual parade from continuing.
“We have to keep making sure the things we say are being heard,” Oded Fried told the Ynet news website.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat issued a statement condemning the attack and pledged to protect “the basic right of freedom of expression” in the city.