The manhunt is on for the gunman who slaughtered a 26-year-old man and 17-year-old girl in a shooting rampage in Israel Saturday night, which left 11 others injured. Wielding a pistol, the assailant entered the youth center in downtown Tel Aviv, opened fire, and then fled on foot, leaving the male counselor (Nir Katz, pictured) and female teen dead.
The attack was a “hate crime,” says Nitzan Horowitz, Israel’s only openly gay lawmaker. “This is the worst attack ever against the gay community in Israel. This act was a blind attack against innocent youths, and I expect the authorities to exercise all means in apprehending the shooter.” This, in a city and country that takes a supportive and open approach to the gay community, though Orthodox Jews are often cited as inciting fearmongering among LGBTs. The “ultra-Orthodox Shas party suggested in parliament that earthquakes were divine punishment for homosexual activity. Shas, whose members have been among the most frequent critics of gays, issued a statement condemning Saturday’s attack.”
MEDIA: Police have placed a gag order on the case, prohibiting the publication of details from the Tel Aviv Gay and Lesbian Association attack, which they say could threaten the investigation. “The covers of Sunday’s newspapers all featured photos of the bloodstained floors of the youth club and headlines such as ‘Massacre of the Proud Youth’ and ‘Terror Against the Proud Community.’ Gay celebrities penned guest columns. The youth at the club ‘go there because it is a refuge of sorts for them,’ songwriter and gay activist Rona Keinan wrote in the daily Yediot Ahronot. ‘The very thought that a person might enter that protected space and simply open fire at them is shocking. I just want to cry.’”
SUPPORT RALLIES: Impromptu demonstrations honoring the lives lost were held Saturday night and Sunday. “Twenty-eight-year-old Nami Besser of the ‘Ha’Noar Ha’Oved Ve Ha’Lomed (Working and Studying Youth), who attended the rally along with 40 other members of her movement said, ‘We came here spontaneously from all across the country. I don’t need to be a lesbian to be shocked by what happened here. This is a free country that values all people equally. We must encourage people to feel comfortable about who they love. This murder goes against everything we believe in,’ she said. Yonatan Gher, director of Jerusalem’s Open House Pride and Tolerance Organization, told Ynet during the protest in the capital ‘ahead of every gay pride parade here people ask us why insist on holding it in Jerusalem and not in Tel Aviv. Yesterday’s incident proves that no place is safe. We are all part of Israeli society, and this violence endangers us all. It all comes from the same place.’ Some 300 people took part in the Jerusalem demonstration, and 200 more attended the rally in Beersheba.”
NEXT PAGES: Photos from the scene and supporters gathering at vigils.