Tens of thousands took to Tel Aviv's Rabin Square Saturday night in a rally to show solidarity with the victims of a shooting at a Tel Aviv center for gay and lesbian youth one week ago, that left two people dead and a dozen wounded.
President Shimon Peres addressed the crowd, saying "the shots fired at the beginning of the week at the gay and lesbian community hurt all of us - as people, as Jews, as Israelis."
Peres mentioned the two Israelis killed in the attack, Nir Katz, 26 and Liz Trobishi, 17, saying "the person who pointed a pistol barrel at Nir Katz and Liz Trobishi pointed it all of you, all of us, at me."
"The creator of the world did not endow anyone with the power to murder his peer," Peres said, adding "every person must fight against murder."
Peres added that "all citizens are citizens with equal rights. Every man was created equal, and every citizen has the right to be who they want to be."
The president vowed that "bullets will not change the principles of our lives, and murderers will not prosper," adding that Israel "will not rest until the criminal is brought to justice."
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai also spoke at the rally, where he said "we thought that in Tel Aviv-Yafo, the city of tolerance and pluralism, that has respected the Gay-Lesbian community for years, we had created an open and accepting society for our children."
Huldai said he "serious failure" at the fact that in his words, Tel Aviv "became a place of hatred and murder."
Huldai also called for an end to incitement against the Gay-Lesbian community, saying "we must say loudly - no more incitement."
Huldai invoked the words of murdered, openly-gay former San Francisco politician Harvey Milk, who said, " "If a bullet should enter my brain, let the bullet destroy every closet door."
"We, here today want that the bullets that pierced the hearts of Liz and Nir of blessed memory, and wounded their friends, should be the bullets that will destroy the walls of ignorance and hatred in our society," Huldai told the crowd.
Hours before the rally, an Israel Defense Forces soldier was arrested on suspicion of threatening attendees of the rally. While in custody, the soldier confessed to making the threats.
Throughout the day Saturday, operators of transportation to the event received telephone threats, including one caller who threatened to bring grenades to the demonstration.
A similar threat was received by organizers of transportation from Haifa. According to Gal Zberger, who organized a Peace Now bus to take demonstrators from Haifa to Tel Aviv, "I got a phone call from a number I didn't recognize. He asked for details regarding the bus. I gave him the details and asked for his name. He said 'the one with the grenade.' I asked what he meant, and he said 'today you will get hit with grenades, not just guns.'"
Another activist from the Be'er Sheva, Shai Gottler, said that earlier in the day, he got an anonymous phone call asking him when the buses were leaving for the rally. Gottler answered the caller, saying that the buses were leaving at around 6 P.M., and asked if he wanted to get a ride. In response, the caller said "I want to come to the pickup point to throw grenades at you."
The police launched an investigation into the incident, and were trying to determine the source of the calls.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now