An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man reportedly shouldered his way into Jerusalem’s gay pride parade Thursday evening, and proceeded to stab six marchers, according to the Associated Press.
The man had recently completed a prison sentence for stabbing several revelers at a gay pride parade in 2005, police spokesman Luba Samri told the AP. The alleged attacker, Yishai Schlissel, is now in police custody.
Eli Bin of Israel’s emergency service told the AP that six “young people” were wounded in the attack, but only two were seriously injured.
“People ran in every direction to take cover,” Yishai Avior, a witness to the attack, told Jerusalem’s Channel 2 TV. “Where I was standing there were three people on the ground bleeding. There was immense panic and shock.”
The parade continued after the wounded were taken to a hospital. The marchers appeared more defiant than celebratory as they chanted “end the violence.”
“A despicable hate crime was committed this evening in Jerusalem,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement released following the attacks. “In Israel everyone, including the gay community, has the right to live in peace, and we will defend that right. I welcome the Israeli religious leadership’s condemnation of this terrible crime, and I call on all those in positions of leadership to denounce this contemptible act. In the name of all of Israelis, I wish the wounded a full and speedy recovery.”
Israel has prided itself in recent years as an oasis of gay-friendliness in a region overwhelmingly intolerant of homosexuality. Gays serve openly in Israel’s military and parliament, and Tel Aviv hosts one of the world’s largest annual gay pride parades. However, same-sex marriages are not legally recognized in Israel — the authority over marriage certification lies with religious institutions and not with the state, and much of the devout Jewish community remains hostile towards gay relationships.