JERUSALEM (JTA) — Six marchers were stabbed at Jerusalem’s annual gay pride parade — allegedly by the man who stabbed three people at the parade in 2005.
One victim in Thursday’s stabbings was in critical condition and two were in serious condition.
The alleged assailant — Yishai Schlissel, a haredi Orthodox man from Modiin Ilit in the West Bank — is in custody. He reportedly used a kitchen knife.
Schlissel was released from prison two weeks ago for the previous attack, according to the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance. Upon his release, he reportedly distributed pamphlets that called on “all Jews faithful to God” to risk “beatings and imprisonment” in order to stop the parade, according to Haaretz.
The injured were treated on the scene before being evacuated to local hospitals.
Thousands participated in the 14th annual Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance, which went through the center of the city. The parade continued after the violence, with hundreds of police and Border Police officers placed along the route to protect the marchers.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was among the Israeli leaders to condemn the attack. He was joined by President Reuven Rivlin and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.
Netanyahu said in a statement: “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.”
Rivlin made his remarks at a public event on Thursday night.
“People celebrating their freedom and expressing their identity were viciously stabbed. We must not be deluded; a lack of tolerance will lead us to disaster,” he said.
Barkat in a statement said: “In Jerusalem, there is a place for everyone and together with the Israeli Police we will continue to target anyone who violently attempts to hurt others. We will continue to staunchly support all of Jerusalem’s communities and groups.”
Naftali Bennett, head of the right-wing Jewish Home party, called the stabbing a “moral crime that cannot be forgiven,” Haaretz reported.
Zehava Gal-On, head of the left-wing Meretz party, in a Facebook post called on Netanyahu to “stop the public atmosphere that makes possible the shedding of blood among Jerusalem’s pride (gay) community.”
Israel’s chief rabbis and the head of the Sephardic Orthodox Shas party also condemned the attack.
The Reform and Conservative movements also condemned the attack.
Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said in a statement:
“Our sympathies and prayers are with those attacked, and we stand in solidarity with all in the Israeli LGBT community. We call on Israeli law enforcement to ensure the perpetrator is never again allowed to cause harm and on policymakers to combat the troubling persistence of hate crimes.”
Rabbi William Gershon and Rabbi Julie Schonfeld of the Rabbinical Assembly of Conservative Judaism said in a statement:
“The horror of an attack on these innocent marchers is made more painful by recalling the passages we read from Eicha on Tisha B’Av, lamenting the shedding of innocent blood in the midst of Jerusalem (4:13).”
In a statement, the Jewish Community Relations Council Jewish Federation of Greater Washington “condemn this act of senseless violence and affirm our commitment to tolerance, inclusion and acceptance, based on the fundamental Jewish precept that we are all created B’tzelem Elokim (in the image of G-d).”
The National Council of Jewish Women, a sponsor of the march, said “we are outraged by the violence that marred the event. Our hearts go out especially to the parade participants who were attacked.”
Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder, and Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean, of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said in a statement: “We call on all leaders in Israel, including religious leaders to unequivocally condemn such despicable acts.”
The modern Orthodox International Rabbinic Fellowship and The Jewish Council for Public Affairs each issued statements condemning both the stabbings and an arson attack in the West Bank by Jews that killed an 18-month-old Palestinian.
Said the IRF: “These acts are an affront to all human decency, halakha and Jewish ethics predicated on the recognition that all human beings are created in the image of a loving and caring God.”
The JCPA wrote: “These attacks rip at the fabric of Israeli society, our shared celebration of pluralism and diversity, and core Jewish values. We are confident that the Israeli justice system will find and convict the perpetrators of the arson attack and we will call for swift judgment on Schlissel if his alleged recidivism is proved.”