Teen seriously hurt in stabbing at Tel Aviv LGBT youth hostel; brother suspected

Rights group calls incident a hate crime; victim reportedly says he was stabbed by his brother, had been under pressure from family to be more religious

The scene of a stabbing near the Beit Dror LGBT youth hostel in Tel Aviv on July 26, 2019. (Screen capture/Channel 13)
The scene of a stabbing near the Beit Dror LGBT youth hostel in Tel Aviv on July 26, 2019. (Screen capture/Channel 13)

A teenager was stabbed and seriously wounded Friday afternoon outside a LGBT youth hostel in Tel Aviv, in what a rights group has alleged was a hate crime.

The 16-year-old boy, who lives in the Beit Dror center, was reportedly stabbed by a man who exited a car and managed to flee the scene without being arrested.

The victim was taken to Ichilov hospital in serious condition, with stab wounds to his chest and leg. He underwent surgery and was said to be in a stable but serious condition.

Police said they had initiated an investigation, and Hebrew-language media reports quoted eyewitnesses who suggested the stabbing was committed by the victim’s brother.

Multiple reports said the victim was originally from the Arab city of Tamra and had been under intense pressure from his family members to become religious.

Channel 12 cited staff at the hostel as saying that before he lost consciousness, the victim said the stabber was his brother. They said the victim had been on his way out for vacation when he was assaulted, and managed to return to the hostel’s entrance before collapsing.

The Israeli LGBTQ+ Youth Organization (IGY) called the stabbing a hate crime.

“Exactly 10 years after the murder at Bar Noar, today a LGBT youth was stabbed while exiting a shelter. We pray for the well-being of the wounded and stand with Beit Dror on this difficult day,” it said in a statement, referring to a 2009 shooting in which two people were murdered at a gay youth center in Tel Aviv.

“This stabbing was not coincidental. This is a hate crime against the LGBT community. There is a price for the insinuations and LGBT-phobia we hear everyday,” IGY added.

Thousands attend a ceremony to mark nine years since the shooting at Bar Noar LGBT center in 2009, in Tel Aviv, August 11, 2018. (Flash90)

Aguda, another LGBT rights group, called on police to thoroughly investigate the stabbing and noted it happened 10 years after the Bar Noar shooting, as well as five years after 16-year-old Shira Banki was stabbed to death at Jerusalem’s gay pride parade.

“The timing of the event is difficult and painful. All of us have the right to be who we are and live our lives securely and we will not stop until each and every one of us can realize this right to live without fear,” the group wrote on its Facebook page.

The stabbing was also condemned by a number of politicians, among them Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz, Israel’s first ever openly gay party head.

“The fact that an attack like this occurred at a place that is supposed to be a safehouse for youths from the gay community demonstrates the depth of the danger,” he wrote on Facebook.

“In Israel of 2019 many young people are forced to flee their family homes and are even exposed to severe violence,” he added. “The authorities must fight this through the welfare system while simultaneously using education to put an end to homophobia, prejudices and hatred.”

In February, Aguda released a report finding a 54 percent jump in the number of reported homophobic incidents in 2018 over the previous year.

One-quarter of the complaints, which include violence, hate speech, discrimination and harassment, were for incidents that occurred in a public space, according to the report. Another 22% took place online or in the media, 15% were at home or within the family, and 13% in the workplace.

Most of the complaints were for hate incidents targeting men (45%) or members of the transgender community (38%). In general, transgender Israelis are especially targeted for harassment. Though they make up only a tiny part of the LGBTQ community, they are the target of fully 24% of all online hate posts tracked by Aguda. Gay and bisexual men are the subjects of a further 50% of the posts, 23% concern the LGBTQ community generally, and just 3% target gay and bisexual women.

The report noted throughout that the figures don’t reflect the number of actual incidents of attacks or harassment, but only the number of times victims and others came forward to report them. When a city has a high number of reports, such as Tel Aviv, it may reflect not a higher number of incidents, but greater willingness to speak up against attacks and harassment.

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