Police arrest man over threats to organizers of Jerusalem Pride Parade

37-year-old resident of Ma’ale Efraim settlement ordered by the court to stay away from LGBTQ events for the rest of the year after he emailed death threats to Jerusalem Open House

Thousands take part in the annual Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem, on June 2, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90/File)
Thousands take part in the annual Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem, on June 2, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90/File)

A man was arrested on Monday for sending death threats to the main organizers of the upcoming Jerusalem Pride Parade.

The 37-year-old, a resident of the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Efraim, was released later in the day and ordered by the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court to stay away from LGBTQ events for the rest of the year, several media outlets reported.

According to the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, one of the threats it received read: “I hope that Yishai Schlissel will be there to finish the job he started… how can you celebrate this mental illness,” in reference to the murder of teenage marcher Shira Banki by Schlissel, an ultra-Orthodox extremist, at the parade in 2015.

The organization claimed the same individual sent other threats in years past.

“It’s good that Israel Police reacted seriously to the threats we received at the Open House and carried out their job to protect the security of marchers,” said Jonathan Valfer, head of the Open House.

“It’s sad to see that the public legitimization of violence and incitement against the gay community still exists and has even increased. Our response will be to continue the LGBTQ struggle,” Valfer wrote, adding that the march will continue undeterred.

File: Yishai Schlissel attacking people with a knife during a Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem Thursday, July 30, 2015 and inset Shira Banki in a picture dated November 2013 taken from her Facebook page. (AP/Sebastian Scheiner and Facebook)

Unlike its Tel Aviv counterpart, the Jerusalem Pride Parade is the subject of heavy security and restrictions, in particular following Banki’s death.

Schlissel carried out the 2015 stabbing attack just a few weeks after he was released from prison where he had served 10 years for stabbing and injuring marchers at the 2005 parade. He is currently serving life in prison.

Similar threats were made ahead of last year’s parade, and a suspect was arrested in advance of the event. About 10 people were arrested throughout the day on suspicion of planning to attack marchers.

This year’s parade is slated for June 1 and will kick off a series of national events marking LGBTQ Pride Month.

Virulently anti-LGBTQ MK Avi Maoz said last year that he would “make sure” to have the annual Jerusalem Pride Parade canceled after joining the government, an assertion Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed back against at the time.

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