Be’er Sheva Man Raps Israel Police for Playing Down Homophobic Attack

But the municipality insists that every case of violence will be dealt with as harshly as possible.

Eliyahu Hershkowitz

A Be’er Sheva man has accused the police of ignoring his injuries after a homophobic attack, saying they accused him of being drunk and would not take him to the emergency room.

Yaniv Gimpel, 26, said he spent Friday night at Bialik 26, a Be’er Sheva gay bar. He said that when he left, three young men made derogatory remarks.

“They shouted homophobic curses, so I called the police,” Gimpel said Sunday. “When they realized I had talked to the police they came toward me and threw stones and glass bottles, which injured my leg.”

Gimpel said he tried to hide; the young men fled, so he followed them so the police could have a chance to catch them. “But when I approached they threw things at me again and said that this homo place should be closed,” he said.

Gimpel waited about 20 minutes for a squad car to arrive. The attackers were no longer around, so the officers suggested that he file a complaint.

“I went to the police station, but because they thought I was drunk they didn’t pay any attention to me. They thought I had invented the whole story and didn’t care that I was attacked because I was gay,” Gimpel said.

“After filing the complaint I asked them to take me to the emergency room because my leg was bleeding, but I heard them say on the two-way radio that they wouldn’t let someone who was drunk get into a police car.”

So Gimpel took a taxi to Soroka Medical Center, where his leg was bandaged.

“Since I was 18 I’ve been going to places catering to the gay community, but nothing like this ever happened, neither in Tel Aviv nor in Be’er Sheva,” he said. “I was in shock. In my city I shouldn’t be afraid to walk down the street fearing I’ll be attacked in a hate crime. I shouldn’t be humiliated by the police because of my sexual identity.”

After the incident, Gimpel wrote a letter to the municipality; he said an official from the mayor’s office had told him the incident would be investigated. The police also say they will investigate.

“We strongly condemn such incidents; everyone has a right to live by his beliefs, and in the city of Be’er Sheva we ensure pluralism,” said Nisim Sasportas, the CEO of Kivunim, a subsidiary of the municipality. “Every case of violence will be handled by the government as harshly as possible.”

Sasportas notes that a committee has been established to hear the complaints of LGBT organizations.

Maor Haiman, a gay activist in Be’er Sheva, said that about a year ago members of the community met with Mayor Ruvik Danilovich.

“But the municipality seems to be ignoring our existence,” Haiman said. “There’s no question that this was a homophobic attack and these weren’t mischievous children. They injured his leg, but they could have killed him .... The municipality has to put a stop to such things.”