A Haredi man named Yishai Shlissel allegedly stabbed six people during Jerusalem’s annual gay pride parade on Thursday, weeks after he was released from prison for committing a similar crime 10 years ago. According to Haaretz, Jerusalem’s Magen David Adom’s emergency services reported that one woman was critically wounded, while two men suffered moderate wounds, and two more men and another woman sustained “light wounds.” They are all reportedly in their thirties.
Police presence was high to today in Jerusalem in preparation for the thousands of revelers. Despite this, Shlissel, who was released from prison just three weeks ago, managed to enter the crowd on Keren Hayesod Street. With a large knife, Shlissel allegedly stabbed several marchers, including one in the back. Police rushed to the scene, wrestled him to the ground, and arrested him. (Here is a collection of somewhat graphic, on-the-ground images of the stabbing and arrest, as well as a video.)
An Orthodox Jew, Yishai Shlissel comes from the Haredi West Bank settlement Modiin Ilit. This is the second time he has carried out an attack on a gay pride parade: In 2005, Shlissel was jailed for twelve years after he stabbed three people at the 2005 Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem. He was released this month after having his sentenced reduced following a 2007 appeal to the Supreme court, Haaretz reported. Shlissel’s freedom enabled him distribute pamphlets around his community prior to the parade; they called upon “all Jews faithful to God” to risk “beatings and imprisonment” in order to stop the parade from occurring. Reported Haaretz:
The Judea and Samaria Police District said after the attack that they were not supposed to track Schlissel after his release, even though he resides in their jurisdiction, because his crime was perpetrated in the Jerusalem district.
Jerusalem police have said that they were unaware Shlissel was present at today’s parade. Chief Moshe Edry told Haaretz that, “We were prepared for every scenario, but our perimeter was breached. This is a severe, hard incident, which required us to investigate to find out what fault cause this breach.”
In Jerusalem, it is usual for the Pride parade to attract its share of protesters. Today, police allowed 30 people to protest in a cordoned off area near the Great Synagogue. According to The Jerusalem Post, one of the protesting groups, a right-wing Israeli group called Lehava, released a statement before the parade saying they “would not allow the event ‘to pass quietly.’” However, their chairman, Benzi Gopstein condemned the attack, saying they “oppose the stabbing of Jews,” but requested that the “abomination parade” does not happen again.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has spoken out against the attack saying that the full justice of the law will be brought down against the assailant. In a statement he said: “In the State of Israel the individual’s freedom of choice is one of basic values. We must ensure that in Israel, every man and woman lives in security in any way they choose. That’s how we acted in the past and how we’ll continue to act. I wish the wounded a speedy recovery.”
According to Haaretz, the Israeli National LGBT Task Force said “they feel shocked that serious violent incidents such as this still happen in Israel in 2015.”
Jas Chana is a former intern at Tablet.