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2 arrested for sending bullet to mother of Netivot Pride Parade organizer

Residents of southern city deny they were behind threat made two weeks ago; victim says she’s ‘relieved’

Illustrative image of a criminal in handcuffs. (YakobchukOlena/iStock, by Getty Images)
Illustrative image of a criminal in handcuffs. (YakobchukOlena/iStock, by Getty Images)

Two men were arrested on Thursday on suspicion that they sent a death threat to the mother of one of the organizers of a Pride Parade in the southern city of Netivot.

The march was canceled two weeks ago after the woman faced protests outside her home and a pistol bullet was left on the door of her workplace.

The two suspects, 32 and 35 years of age and both residents of Netivot, deny the accusations. The Beersheba Magistrate’s Court ordered them held in custody for five days.

They are suspected of delivering the bullet and vandalizing the woman’s car during a protest at her home in Ma’agalim, a community south of Netivot.

The woman told Channel 12 news she felt “great relief and joy that the police took the threats seriously.”

She said she had “not slept for two weeks and feared for my life.”

Last month the Aguda umbrella organization for LGBTQ groups in Israel said in a statement that it was canceling the planned Netivot march “out of responsibility for the safety and welfare of community members.”

Lawmakers condemned the circumstances of the cancellation and urged that the parade, scheduled for the beginning of June, still go ahead.

The arrests in the case came as police were on high alert in the capital ahead of Thursday’s Jerusalem Pride Parade, after threats were made against an organizer of that march and lawmakers who plan to attend. The threats referenced the murder of a teen at the 2015 event.

Pride events in Jerusalem are always tense affairs, with right-wing and religious counter-protests a constant, along with a history of deadly violence.

This was heightened on Wednesday after a message was sent to Jerusalem Open House community director Emuna Klein Barnoy warning: “We will not allow the Pride Parade to take place in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the Holy City. Shira Banki’s fate awaits you.”

The message was also sent to MKs Gilad Kariv (Labor), Naama Lazimi (Labor) and Eitan Ginzburg (Blue and White). Knesset speaker Mickey Levy also plans to participate in the march.

Late Wednesday, police said they had arrested a man in his 20s suspected of sending the threats. The man, a Jerusalem resident, was not identified. He was to be brought before a court in the city on Thursday to have his remand extended.

The threatening messages were sent on Facebook and Twitter from an account under the name of “The brothers of Yishai Schlissel,” according to the network.

Schlissel, an ultra-Orthodox Jew, stabbed 16-year-old Shira Banki to death during the 2015 parade, just three weeks after he was released from prison where he served an eight-year sentence for a stabbing attack at the same march 10 years earlier.

Pride marches are held annually in several locations across the country. Tel Aviv puts on the largest pride, with tens of thousands typically attending. It is scheduled to take place this year on June 10.

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