Main | Wednesday, June 05, 2013

ISRAEL: Arrests Made In Deadly 2009 Attack On Tel Aviv LGBT Center

Tel Aviv police today announced three arrests in the 2009 mass shooting at the city's LGBT Community Center which left two dead and 15 injured. Police will not say who has been arrested, other than they are Jewish. At the time of the attack, some had suspected foreign terrorists.

Via the Jerusalem Post:
In a briefing with reporters on Wednesday night, Tel Aviv Police Commander Bentzi Sau said that in the afternoon detectives from the YAMAR investigative unit arrested three suspects they believe were involved in the shooting. Sau would not give any further details about the case, which remains under a gag order.

He did confirm however, that the suspects are Jewish and that they have ruled out a nationalist motive in the shooting. The three will be brought in to the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court on Thursday morning for a remand extension. The update was made to reporters only after police notified the families of the victims of the shooting.

Wednesday's arrests follow a previous breakthrough made by police late last year, which was announced by then Tel Aviv police commander Aharon Aksel in a conference call to reporters. That breakthrough also remains under a gag order.
PREVIOUSLY ON JMG: Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the site of the shooting the following day in 2009, saying the attack had "the markings of terrorism." The shooting prompted a massive manhunt with hundreds of Israeli police and international terrorism experts involved. Some of the parents of the victims only learned that their children were gay after getting calls from local hospitals.

At the time of the attack, gay journalists and politicians suggested that it was the work of Israel's anti-gay and Ultra-Orthodox Shas Party.  From the Jerusalem Post in 2009:
"I warned in a column last year that Israel is a place which on the one hand has liberal laws, but on the other does not attempt to counter homophobia," Danny Zak, a journalist and gay rights advocate, told the Jerusalem Post during the demonstration. "A murder was waiting to happen," Zak added. "The Shas party has the blood of two innocent kids on their hands," he said. "Shas has blamed gays for earthquakes and diseases. This is incitement, but no one is put on trial for it," he said. Shas released a statement following the shooting in which it called for the attacker "to be found and tried. Murder is of course against the Torah's path and every attack is a contravention of the religion of Israel." Meretz MK Nitzan Horovitz, who is gay, arrived at the scene of the shooting. "There has been non-stop incitement," he told the Post. "I very much hope this is not the result of comments made by public figures and Knesset members. They need to understand that some people will take action." Last year, former Shas MK Shlomo Benizri said that homosexual behavior was the cause of earthquakes.
Vigils were held worldwide following the attack, with demonstrations taking place in New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Los Angeles, Washington DC, San Francisco, and many other cities.

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