The Jerusalem District Court on Sunday sentenced to life behind bars Yishai Schlissel, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man convicted of stabbing to death 16-year-old Shira Banki at the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade last year.
Schlissel was given another 30 years in prison for attempted murders of the six other people he injured in the attack, and another year for breaking the terms of his release from prison for a similar stabbing attack he carried out in 2005.
He was also ordered to pay NIS 2.6 million ($670,000) in compensation to the families of his victims.
Schlissel was led into the courtroom with his hands and feet shackled.
In their ruling, the panel of three judges declared, “We have before us a man who doesn’t see people in front of him. A cruel man. A man who sees himself as ‘giving and taking life’ in the name of the principles that he set for himself to enforce.”
“This dangerous man can no longer walk the streets of Jerusalem or any other place,” they said.
Schlissel’s younger brother Moshe arrived at the court to hear the sentencing but then quickly left the premises, the news site Walla reported. It was the first time a family member attended any of the court proceedings during the trial.
Sarah Kala, executive director of Jerusalem Open House LGBT center, said the sentence was “another step to try and deter the terrible homophobia raging on our streets.”
“They don’t usually give the maximum possible sentence, but in our view, to know that Yishai Schlissel will stay in prison for the rest of his days is certainly something that comforts us a little,” she told Israel Radio.
On July 30, 2015, Schlissel stabbed Banki and six others despite a heavy police presence at the parade. Banki died of her wounds three days later.
Schlissel had been released from prison weeks earlier, after serving 10 years in prison for a similar but not-fatal attack at the 2005 gay pride parade. Days before the 2015 stabbing, Schlissel penned a handwritten anti-gay manifesto in which he called the pride march “shameful” and “blasphemous,” and alluded to plans to perpetrate another attack.
The stabbing triggered harsh criticism of the police, with many questioned how Schlissel, now 41, was allowed anywhere near the parade, which saw thousands marching through central Jerusalem.
The court also noted the “absurdity” in Schlissel being released without any supervision or having undergone rehabilitation.
During a hearing earlier this month when prosecutors sought a life sentence and an additional 60 years, Schlissel broke his silence in court for the first time to explain that religious fervor drove him to carry out his crime.
“The parade is what brings the terror attacks and the intifadas down on us; it’s what causes God’s wrath,” he told the court. “I strive to act out of my love for God, and gay pride parades are a source of hatred toward God and toward the Jewish people.”
Schlissel went on to say that participants in gay pride parades “know full well they are taking part in the desecration of God’s name.
“Every good Jew needs to know whether he is loyal to the King of Kings, or whether he will fall into the net of those acting against God, who are the devil,” he said.
Schlissel did not cooperate with police during the course of their investigation, and had remained silent during all of his previous court appearances.
After his arrest, Schlissel repeatedly refused legal counsel, saying he did not recognize the legal standing of the court since it does not abide by Jewish law. Nonetheless, he was appointed a public defender to represent him in court.
A court-ordered psychiatric examination carried out earlier this year found Schlissel fit to stand trial.
In April, Schlissel was convicted of Banki’s murder, six counts of attempted murder for the injuries he caused other people during the attack, and aggravated assault.
During the trial, the court said police knew of the potential threat but failed to prevent it.
“The evidence clearly shows that Israeli police were aware of the dangers the defendant, released (from prison) a short while before the march, posed,” the April judgement stated.
“The unbearable ease in which the defendant managed to infiltrate the marchers and carry out his nefarious deed before being apprehended is incomprehensible.”
It said that “the gloomy picture arising is that lessons that should have been learned from the 2005 march were not implemented, and intelligence and other materials in possession of the police were not used prudently.”
Six senior Israeli policemen were removed from their posts as a consequence.