Monday, 3 August 2009

MaltaStar: Gunman kills two in gay centre attack in Israel


A gunman murdered two people at a gay centre in Tel Aviv, Israel on Saturday evening. Another ten persons were reportedly wounded in the attack.

Most of the victims were gay teenagers, who were meeting at the centre on Nachmani street when the gunman entered and started firing indiscriminately.

The black-clad man is still at large and police have ordered the temporary closure of all gay clubs in the city.

Gay leaders say it is Israel's worst-ever hate crime against the community. Witnesses said the gunman fired in all directions with a handgun.

At one point, three deaths were being reported but later accounts spoke only of two fatalities - that of a young man and a young woman.

The shootings took place at the headquarters of the local lesbian and gay rights association.

One woman said she was "terrified, shocked, surprised, amazed" by the attack "because it was so unexpected".

Yaron Arad, who works at a nearby hotel, said the gay community was part of the city.

"We know that Tel Aviv has a very lively gay community with plenty of activities going around," he told BBC News.

"That's actually the surprising issue, there is not at all any homophobic activity in Tel Aviv.

"Jerusalem does not naturally accept the gay community but here in Tel Aviv it's different, totally different story. A lot of parties, a lot of gay people having fun here. That's why it's so shocking what's happened here tonight."

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on MaltaStar's website.]


YouTube: Near the Gay center in Tel-Aviv after the shooting

[Click on hyperlink above to view related videos.]


Al Jazeera: Gunman attacks Tel Aviv gay centre

Israel Channel 10 TV, which reported the incident, described the scene as a "bloodbath" [AFP]

Two people have been killed and at least 10 others wounded when an unknown gunman attacked a community centre for gay teenagers in Tel Aviv before escaping.

Rescue services said that six of the wounded during the incident on Saturday were badly hurt.

The shooting took place at the headquarters of the local lesbian and gay rights association on Nachmani street.

Micky Rosenfeld, a police spokesman, said the attack was "most likely a criminal attack and not a terror attack," while representatives of Tel Aviv's gay community said it was a homophobic attack.

Police are searching the area for the gunman, who fled the scene, Rosenfeld said.

Israel Channel 10 TV reported that the incident occurred at "Cafe Noir", a popular hangout frequented by the gay community in downtown Tel Aviv.

The station said that a man dressed in black entered the club and began shooting indiscriminately.

The report described the scene as a "bloodbath".

Police have ordered the temporary closure of all gay clubs in the Israeli city.

'Hate crime'

Soon after the incident, hundreds of Israelis held a rally in Tel Aviv in protest over the shooting, and candles were lit at the scene.

In video

Manhunt on for Tel Aviv gay club killer

Nitzan Horowitz, Israel's only openly gay member of parliament, condemned the shooting as a "hate crime".

He called it "without a doubt the biggest ever attack on the Israeli gay community".

"We are all in shock," he said.

Coastal, cosmopolitan Tel Aviv has a bustling gay scene, but open homosexuality is less welcome in conservative areas of Israel.

Annual gay pride parades in Jerusalem often turn violent with protests instigated by ultra-Orthodox Jews.


Hunt for Israel gay club shooter - 'Motive for shooting still unclear'

Chen Katz holds a rainbow flag as she mourns during the funeral for her brother Nir in the Israeli city of Modiin near Tel Aviv, yesterday.

Israeli police said yesterday they were still searching for the attacker who killed two people in a homosexual and lesbian youth centre on Saturday night. It is feared that the attack was a hate crime in the Jewish state's most freewheeling city.

The attacker killed a 26-year-old man and a 16-year-old girl and wounded 13 people before fleeing, hospital officials said.

"He simply fired all over the place," Or Gil, 16, told the YNet news website. "At first I thought it was prank, or a toy gun. After the killings, it was quiet, completely silent and then people came to help the wounded."

"The biggest shock is to think that it happened in Tel Aviv, which is the most tolerant city in the country," said Avi Sofer, a gay rights activist.

Witnesses said a masked gunman clad in black opened fire in a basement club belonging to the Tel Aviv Gay and Lesbian Association, which was hosting a weekly event for teenage gays.

The police added that the shooting was not an anti-Israeli attack by a Palestinian but gave no other details, citing a court order banning publication of details of the investigation.

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai said the motive for the shooting was still unclear.

If the incident proves to be a hate crime, it will mark the most serious attack against the gay community in Israel's history.

Condemning what he called a "horrific killing", Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet: "We are a tolerant, democratic country governed by the rule of law and we must respect each and every person."

Although coastal, cosmopolitan Tel Aviv has a bustling gay scene, open homosexuality is less welcome in conservative areas.

Annual gay pride parades in Jerusalem meet with often violent protests from ultra-Orthodox Jews, who view homosexuality as an abomination against God.

Four years ago, an ultra-Orthodox Jew stabbed three parade participants in Jerusalem. They survived. The attacker is serving a 12-year prison term.

Nitzan Horowitz, an openly gay legislator, said he had no doubt there was a connection between the latest killings and what he termed incitement against the gay community in Israel.

"We demand that the government put an end to this hate campaign and that the Education Ministry institute proper information and education at schools in order to prevent the recurrence of such shameful events," Mr Horowitz said.

Despite anti-gay sentiments among some religious Jews in Israel, gays serve openly in the military. Israel accords same-sex couples a measure of legal recognition and cohabitation rights, though Orthodox religious auth-orities control formal nuptials in the country.

An 18-year-old woman, who gave her name only as Alona, said she ran outside at the sound of gunfire.

"Because this is a very open-minded city, there's a place for us (to meet)," she said of the youth club.

"But there are also those who don't like us."

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' the website.]

No comments:

Post a Comment