August 3, 2009

Absolutely shocking. Since these types of crime are typically incited by inflammatory rhetoric, it seems likely it had something to do with the ultra-Orthodox activists in the city:

JERUSALEM -- Hundreds of police officers scoured the streets of Tel Aviv on Sunday in a manhunt for a gunman who shot and killed two people and wounded 11 others at a club for gay youth.

The shooting shocked the Mediterranean city, which prides itself on its live-and-let-live attitude and boasts a thriving gay community, and drew condemnations from the city's mayor, from Cabinet ministers and from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "We'll bring him to justice and exercise the full extent of the law against him," Mr. Netanyahu said of the killer, speaking at the Israeli Cabinet's weekly meeting.

A masked man entered a club for gay teens in downtown Tel Aviv late Saturday, pulled out a pistol and shot in all directions, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. Israeli media identified the dead as a 26-year-old man and a 17-year-old girl. The man then holstered his pistol and fled the scene on foot into the busy streets of Tel Aviv, Mr. Rosenfeld said.

Nitzan Horowitz, Israel's only openly gay lawmaker, called the attack a "hate crime." "This is the worst attack ever against the gay community in Israel," he said. "This act was a blind attack against innocent youths, and I expect the authorities to exercise all means in apprehending the shooter."

Israel's gays and lesbians typically enjoy freedoms similar to those of gays in European countries. Gay soldiers serve openly in the military, and openly gay musicians and actors are among the country's most popular. Tel Aviv holds a festive annual gay parade, rainbow flags are often seen flying from apartment windows and there is a city-funded open house for the community.

However, ultra-Orthodox Jewish leaders often incite against gays, especially in conservative Jerusalem, where there have been clashes between religious and gay activists. In 2005, an ultra-Orthodox protester stabbed three marchers at a Jerusalem gay parade. The ultra-Orthodox Shas party, a frequent critic of gays in Israel, issued a statement condemning Saturday's attack.

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