The Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday convicted Yishai Schlissel for the stabbing murder of a teenage girl at the Jerusalem Gay Pride parade last year and also criticized police for failing to prevent the attack.
In addition to the murder of 16-year-old Shira Banki, Yishai Schlissel, 40, was convicted on six counts of attempted murder for the injuries he caused other people during his stabbing spree, as well as aggravated assault.
On July 30, 2015, Schlissel knifed Banki and injured six others, despite a heavy police presence at the parade. Banki died of her wounds three days later.
The court had previously ruled that Schlissel was fit to stand trial. Prosecutors were expected to demand a life sentence. Schlissel has repeatedly refused legal counsel, saying he does not recognize the legal standing of the court since it does not abide by Jewish law.
Nonetheless, he was represented in court by a public defender.
“It was proven beyond any reasonable doubt that he caused the death of Banki intentionally and tried to murder six other people,” the court ruled.
The court also had a stern rebuke for the failure of a police cordon around the parade to intercept Schlissel, who previously served ten years in prison for a similar but not-fatal attack on the 2005 gay pride parade. He was released just weeks before carrying out the repeat attack in 2015.
“The intolerable ease with which the accused was able to reach the marchers and carry out his scheme is incomprehensible,” the judges wrote. “Lessons that were supposed to have been learned from the Gay Pride march in 2005 were not learned, the writing was on the wall, and no one read it.”
Policewomen at the parade had initially turned away Schlissel, who was dressed in the traditional black garb of an ultra-Orthodox man, but he found his way back to it further down the route by going along side streets.
During the trial Schlissel was sent for a psychological assessment but at first refused to cooperate. A second assessment found him fit to stand trial.
Following the ruling the gay rights caucus in the Knesset said in a statement that “the hate crimes against the gay community are a stain on the whole of Israeli society and the perpetrators should be expelled from within it.”
The caucus said it plans to hold a special summit during gay pride week, which is scheduled to begin at the end of the month, with a focus on the problem of hatred toward members of the LGBT community.
Last year, after his release from prison for the 2005 stabbing, Schlissel distributed a handwritten anti-gay manifesto in which he called the pride march “shameful” and “blasphemous,” and alluded to plans to perpetrate another attack.
“It is incumbent upon every Jew to risk beatings or imprisonment and together to stop the desecration for the sanctity of His name. If we refrain from declaring war, they’ll feel free to spread this shame all over the world,” he said.
Ten days before the parade he gave an interview to an ultra-Orthodox media channel in which he said his 2005 attack was “an act of extremism… but this march has to be stopped.” The gay community wants to “despoil the people of Israel,” he said.
An internal police probe into the stabbing published in September last year called for six senior officers to be removed from their posts and another four to be reprimanded.
Among those to be removed over the attack were the heads of the Moriah police substation, the head of the Jerusalem intelligence branch of the police, the head of the operations branch for the area of the parade, the head of intelligence for the Moriah substation, the officer in charge of securing part of the heavily guarded parade route, and the head of the coordination division.
One more police officer, who was in charge of guarding the area of the route where the stabbing took place, was also recommended to be removed.
In February 2016 the Jerusalem municipality announced that the capital’s historic Zion Square, slated for a complete overhaul, was to be renamed Tolerance Square in memory of Banki.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.