Tel Aviv Gay Pride in 2004.

As the manhunt for the killer continues, Israel’s Prime Minister and President have both condemned the bloody attack on gay youth in Tel Aviv.

Israeli media reports that 17 year old Liz Trubeshi and 26-year-old Nir Kat were killed when a masked gunman opened fire with an automatic weapon on a meeting of gay youth at Café Noir in the city on Saturday night.

Twelve other people were also injured in what witnesses described as a bloodbath. Many of the victims’ parents only learnt of their not-yet-out children’s sexuality when they received phone calls from the authorities after the attack.

“I took cover with someone under a table, and he kept firing. When I got up it was horrifying, I just saw blood.” said teenage survivor, Or Gil, reports the BBC.

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, a tearful Yaniv Weisman, chairman of the Israeli Gay Youth organisation said that the victims were mostly teenagers: “They came to this centre from across the country to talk to one another and receive help. This was supposed to be a safe place for them.”

The police launched a massive manhunt for the killer while hundreds of gays and lesbians marched through the city on Sunday in an impromptu demonstration against the atrocity.

“I send my condolences to the families of the victims and wish the wounded a speedy recovery. I would like to take this opportunity to say to all of Israel’s citizens: We are a democratic country, a country of tolerance, a law-abiding state, and we will honour every person regardless of his or her beliefs,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in reaction to the incident.

President Shimon Peres also slammed the attack: “Murder and hatred are the two most serious crimes in society. The police must exert great efforts in order to catch the despicable murderer, and the entire nation must unite in condemning this abominable act.”

It’s been reported that police have temporarily closed down all gay bars in the city until the gunman is found out of fear for the safety of the city’s gay community.

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