With police enforcing tight security in the run-up to the annual Jerusalem gay pride parade, a man was detained Thursday for posting threats online against participants. His arrest recalled an attack two years ago by a knife-wielding extremist, who stabbed a teenage girl to death at the same event.
The man, aged 33 and from the central region of the country, made the threats in a post to his Facebook page, police said in a statement.
Police did not immediately provide information about the nature of the threats.
After being questioned by officers at the police central investigations unit, a court released the suspect on condition that he stay out of Jerusalem until Friday, Channel 10 reported.
During the parade Thursday afternoon, a demonstration against it by the far-right Lehava organization will take place some distance from the march’s route, outside a tight police cordon.
Police have informed the group that their protest — headlined “Don’t give them children,” a reference to the recently reignited national debate about same-sex adoption in Israel — would be limited to 100 participants.
Earlier this week, several known anti-gay activists received calls from police officers warning them to stay away from the march or telling them they were banned from the city for all of Thursday.
Security officials were criticized in 2015 for failing to keep anti-gay extremist Yishai Schlissel away from the parade despite the fact that he had just been released from prison for a similar, though nonfatal, attack against gay pride marchers in 2005, in which he stabbed three people.
Days before he stabbed 16-year-old Shira Banki to death at the parade and wounded several others, Schlissel had 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 following year, police introduced additional security measures for the Jerusalem march. This year, hundreds of extra officers and border guards will be deployed to the area, police said.
Thousands of people were expected to march through central Jerusalem in the city’s 16th annual pride parade.
This year’s March for Pride and Tolerance was to be held under the banner of “LGBTQ and Religion,” and is expected to draw some 4,000 participants to the capital city.
“In a city that has known bloody wars of religion, we have seen and borne the price of hatred against the backdrop of religion,” organizers wrote on their Facebook page. “We will shed light on the complex, deep connections between [various religious groups] and the struggles for partnerships, conflict and dialogue.”
Parade-goers will begin congregating at Liberty Bell Park from 4:30 p.m. At 6, the march will begin, heading up Keren Hayesod and King George streets, before turning onto Meir Shaham, Rabbi Akiva and Hillel streets, and congregating at Independence Park for a closing event at 8 p.m.
Organizers have asked participants to bring flowers that they can place at the site on Keren Hayesod where Banki was murdered at the march two years ago by Schlissel.
The parade is predicted to snarl downtown traffic for hours. Several major arteries through the capital’s center will be shut to traffic starting at 4 p.m., including the parade route from Keren Hayesod through King George and on to Hillel. Many key streets leading to the parade route will also close at that hour, including Agron Street.
Like last year, participants will not be able join or leave the parade along the route, police said in a statement Wednesday, but only at the starting location in Liberty Bell Park and at Paris Square, where all participants will undergo security checks.