3,500 at first Beersheba gay pride parade; man arrested with knife
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3,500 at first Beersheba gay pride parade; man arrested with knife

Two ultra-Orthodox men detained near event, later reportedly released as southern city holds LGBT march under tight security

Israelis take part in the first annual Gay Pride parade in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, on June 22, 2017. (AFP/Menahem Kahana)
Israelis take part in the first annual Gay Pride parade in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, on June 22, 2017. (AFP/Menahem Kahana)

Some 3,500 people attended the first-ever Gay Pride parade in the southern city of Beersheba on Thursday.

Two ultra-Orthodox men, one carrying a knife, were arrested nearby. One was found armed with a knife in the vicinity of the parade and the second had attempted to forcibly enter the procession.

According to the Walla news website, the two were later released.

Two years ago teen Shira Banki was killed and five people injured by a Jewish religious extremist armed with a knife at a pride parade in central Jerusalem.

An Israeli policeman stands guard as Israelis take part in the first annual Gay Pride parade in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, on June 22, 2017.(AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA)
An Israeli policeman stands guard as Israelis take part in the first annual Gay Pride parade in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, on June 22, 2017. (AFP/Menahem Kahana)

Hundreds of police, border guards and volunteers were deployed to protect the Beersheba marchers.

In previous years, Beersheba’s pride events have been smaller, usually taking place at the city’s youth center. This year was its first full-fledged public parade.

Last year organizers canceled the event to protest a High Court of Justice ruling that barred participants from marching through Rager Boulevard, citing fears of violence.

Israelis take part in the first annual Gay Pride parade in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, on June 22, 2017.(AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA)
Israelis take part in the first annual Gay Pride parade in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, on June 22, 2017. (AFP/Menahem Kahana)

Opinion in the city is divided over holding the parade, with many expressing support for the event on social media. Last week police arrested a 17-year-old for posting on Facebook, “Soon there will be an attack on the first ever gay pride parade in Beersheba.”

Israelis take part in the first annual Gay Pride parade in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, on June 22, 2017.(AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA)
Israelis take part in the first annual Gay Pride parade in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, on June 22, 2017. (AFP/Menahem Kahana)

Earlier this month over 200,000 people attended Tel Aviv’s Gay Pride Parade, including an estimated 30,000 people who came from abroad to take part.

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