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Israel has seen dozens of murders of homosexual men by sexual partners in recent decades. One prominent filmmaker believes that in a considerable proportion of these cases, the killer sought to "purify" himself of any suspicion that he was gay.

Ran Kotzer, today a senior producer at the Channel 2 television concessionaire Reshet, investigated the phenomenon while creating his 2003 documentary "Cause of Death: Homophobia." Kotzer said such murders have not received the attention they deserve, because the victims are often perceived as partly culpable in their own murders, simply by virtue of being homosexual.

Kotzer sees such crimes as homophobic murders, which usually stem from the perpetrator's feelings of guilt and the desire to "kill the homosexual within him."

A wave of violence gripped Jerusalem's gay community in 1999 that reached a peak with the murder of the author Sami Hoffman by three Palestinians who Hoffman had previously slept with. Several years earlier, psychologist Eliezer Levy and Haifa Technion engineering teacher Yeshayahu Demner were stabbed to death in Haifa.

"In most of these incidents the person is killed with 30 or 40 stab wounds, in the heat of rage. The murderer is trying, as it were, to kill the homosexual within," said Asaf Gil, who produced Kotzer's film.

"The primary impetus for these murders is homophobic and personal, which has deep roots in the cultural stigmas and homophobia against sexual contact between men," Kotzer said. "The most notable characteristic of all of the murders is that the killer always claims that he isn't gay."

These cultural stigmas, Kotzer continued, "lead people with troubled personalities to very problematic emotional places, and ultimately lead to these outbursts."