Tel Aviv’s gay community has been left in shock after Israeli police arrested a leading local activist over an attack on a gay youth centre four years ago which left two people dead.
The suspect is said to be a well-known gay rights campaigner, though he has not been named by police. He is reported to have been detained for obstructing the investigation by not sharing information with police.
The arrest, along with those of three other unnamed people, comes just a day before Tel Aviv celebrates its annual gay pride festival.
Two people - Nir Katz, who was 27, and 16 year-old Liz Trubeshi – were killed when a gunman entered the Bar Noar club in August 2009 and began shooting, apparently randomly. The attack, which was initially thought to be a hate crime against the gay community, left dozens wounded.
Liz Trubeshi’s father, quoted in the Israeli media, has called for the death penalty in the case. “It is good the suspects were arrested, but I will not be satisfied with a punishment that would allow them to walk free after 10 years in prison. They should be executed. A man who kills someone on purpose should be under the ground just like his victim. The arrest will not bring my daughter back,” Eli Trubeshi said.
Nitzan Horowitz, a member of the Israeli Knesset, told the Haaretz newspaper that the arrests in the case were welcome. “The unsolved slaughter at the Bar Noar has cast a heavy shadow for almost four years, not just over the gay community, but over Israeli society as a whole,” he said.
“Reactions to the murder by various people revealed the depth of hatred toward the gay community... It must be hoped that the law enforcement system has indeed managed to put its hands on those responsible for this terrible act.”
Despite memories of the deaths still fresh in the minds of people in Tel Aviv, this year’s gay pride will go ahead as usual. A parade through the centre of the city will cumulate with a beach party, hosted by well-known DJs. As many as 100,000 people are expected to attend.
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