Pride parade killer plotted new attack from prison, police say

Yishai Schlissel, serving life for Shira Banki’s murder at 2015 march, suspected of planning to strike again through his brother

Yishai Schlissel, center, is led out of the courtroom at the Jerusalem District Court, April 19, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Yishai Schlissel, center, is led out of the courtroom at the Jerusalem District Court, April 19, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Yishai Schlissel, who twice attacked gay pride parades in Jerusalem, planned a third attack on the march from prison along with his brother, police said Thursday, hours before the heavily guarded event was set to kick off.

Schlissel is currently serving a life sentence behind bars after his stabbing rampage at last year’s parade left 16-year-old Shira Banki dead and six others wounded.

That attack took place just weeks after he finished a prison term for his previous stabbing attack at the Jerusalem parade in 2005, which left three wounded.

Police lifted a gag order on the arrest Thursday afternoon.

Schlissel is charged with conspiring with his brother Michael to carry out an attack on this year’s parade, which is set to begin with a gathering at 4:15 p.m. at Jerusalem’s Liberty Bell Park.

Security forces reach for an ultra-Orthodox Jew attacking people with a knife during a Gay Pride parade Thursday, July 30, 2015 in central Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
Security forces reach for an ultra-Orthodox Jew attacking people with a knife during a Gay Pride parade Thursday, July 30, 2015 in central Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

The march is taking place under an unprecedented security umbrella, with some 2,000 regular police, Border Police gendarmes and plainclothes officers deployed to protect the event.

According to police, Schlissel planned an attack from his prison cell that would have been carried out by Michael, who was arrested Wednesday.

Yishai was arrested by police in prison on Thursday morning.

Police presented evidence against the brothers to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Thursday. Michael remains in police custody.

Michael Schlissel, brother of Yishai Schlissel, is led out of the courtroom of the Jerusalem Magistrates Court on July 20, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Michael Schlissel, brother of Yishai Schlissel, is led out of the courtroom of the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on July 20, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“We have disrupted and prevented an attempt to hurt people during the parade,” Jerusalem Police chief Yoram Halevy said Thursday. “The march will take place as planned. We will ensure that the public is able to realize its rights to free expression and protest in Israel’s democracy.”

Michael Schlissel has denied the allegations. No comment from Yishai was forthcoming Thursday.

The Schlissels’ mother and four other brothers were also detained briefly on Wednesday, then told they were banned from the capital until Friday.

People leave flowers at a flowers at a memorial to Shira Banki, 16, who was murdered in a stabbing attack a year early during the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade, seen ahead of the 2016 event held on July 21, 2016. (Times of Israel/Stuart Winer)
People leave flowers at a flowers at a memorial to Shira Banki, 16, who was murdered in a stabbing attack a year early during the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade, seen ahead of the 2016 event held on July 21, 2016. (Stuart Winer/Times of Israel)

In a separate case, another person was arrested Thursday morning on suspicion of planning to attack parade-goers. The suspect, who has not been identified, will be brought to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court for a remand hearing on Thursday afternoon, police said.

An activist with the ultra-nationalist Lehava organization was also detained ahead of the march, according to media reports. The unnamed activist was known by the police to oppose the parade and has posted on Facebook that it is an abomination, according to Israel Radio.

According to this report the activist had been asked to sign a pledge that he would not attend pride parades in other Israeli cities.

LGBT members surrounded by hundreds of Israeli police officers march on Jaffa street in Jerusalem on August 14, 2015, following the stabbing attack at the annual Jerusalem pride parade on July 30, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
LGBT members surrounded by hundreds of Israeli police officers march on Jaffa street in Jerusalem on August 14, 2015, following the stabbing attack at the annual Jerusalem pride parade on July 30, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Police also detained on Wednesday night four women in their thirties for spray-painting graffiti along the parade route in support of the march. The women confessed and were released.

The march comes against the backdrop of swirling controversies over prominent religious figures linked to the Israel Defense Forces making anti-gay comments.

In an interview published Wednesday, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said he wouldn’t march in the parade out of respect for the city’s religious community, which he said was offended by the display of gay pride. The decision drew condemnation from politicians and others.

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