Six people were stabbed by a knife-wielding religious extremist at yesterday’s Jerusalem Pride parade.
Yishai Shlissel, an ultra-Orthodox Jew, ran through the march on Thursday, randomly stabbing six participants; leaving two seriously injured.
“We heard people screaming, everyone ran for cover, and there were bloodied people on the ground,” Shai Aviyor, a witness, told Israel’s Channel 2.
Footage from Channel 10 Israel, posted by HLN, shows the man waving his knife wildly as participants holding rainbow flags try to stop him. Bloodied victims are then seen lying on the ground as they are tended to by paramedics.
Shlissel was eventually wrestled to the ground and arrested by police. According to the BBC, the parade continued, with Pride marchers chanting: “End the violence”.
The Times of Israel reported that a 17-year-girl remains in serious condition following surgery.
Disturbingly, Shlissel was released from prison just three weeks earlier after he was jailed for doing the same thing ten years ago. In 2005, he stabbed three people during that year’s Jerusalem Pride.
Shlissel has in the past called the Pride a “foul march” and warned that LGBT people aim to “despoil the people of Israel.”
Israeli leaders quickly condemned the stabbing. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the attack as “a despicable hate crime.” President Reuven Rivlin added that, “a lack of tolerance will lead us to disaster. We cannot allow such crimes, and we must condemn those who commit and support them.”
In a statement on Facebook, the organisers of the Pride, Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, said they were “shocked and saddened that a fanatic was able to breach the security of the police and injure so many of our marchers.”
They continued: “All we ask and expect is that LGBTQ people are free and safe to live in Jerusalem. [The attack] is only a sign we need to continue our work and our marches.”
In 2007, it was reported that police found a small home-made bomb on a 32-year-old man, who apparently intended to use it at the parade.
While Israel is the most tolerant country towards gays and lesbians in the region, critics accuse its leaders of using this tolerance to distract from human rights abuses against Palestinian people.