Hundreds of police officers were scouring the streets of Tel Aviv on Sunday in a door-to-door manhunt for a gunman who opened fire inside a gay youth club in the center of town.
A masked man entered a club for gay teens late Saturday, pulled out a pistol and shot in all directions, killing two and wounding 15, four of them seriously.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the man then holstered his pistol and fled the scene by foot to the busy streets of Tel Aviv.
The victims of the attack were named as Nir Katz, 26, of Givatayim, and Liz Trobishi, 16, of Holon.
Ten people wounded in the shooting attack were still hospitalized Sunday morning. A Magen David Adom emergency health service spokesman said that "MDA is always on call, and the ambulances arrived at the scene of the attack within minutes."
Magen David Adom said that five of the wounded had been taken for treatment to Tel Aviv's Ichilov Hospital, two of them in critical condition.
Five others who were lightly hurt were taken to the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon.
Gays and lesbians enjoy great freedom and liberties in Israel. Soldiers serve openly in the military, and openly gay musicians and actors are among the most popular in the country.
Tel Aviv in particular is one of the more liberal cities in the world - it holds a festive annual gay parade, rainbow flags are often seen waved from apartment windows and the there is even a city-sponsored open house for the community.
'There was nowhere to run'
A 16-year-old victim of the shooting said on Saturday that he feared the incident would force others to disclose their homosexuality.
"I'm horrified to think that this is the way the parents of some of my friends will find out," Or Gil, who was taken to Ichilov Hospital following a knee and chest injury, told Haaretz.
"At about 10.40 P.M. someone came over, all dressed in black and wearing a black mask," he recounted. "I thought it was a joke at first, but he immediately opened fire. People took cover under the bed and tables, but there were no screams. I hid under a table with someone else. It's a small place; there's just one terrace. Once you're inside, there's nowhere to run."
Gil came to the center every week to take part in activities for teenagers.
"It's for 14- to 21-year-olds," he said. "Teenagers just hang out there, talking and listening to music."
"I love this place," Gil concluded, "but I don't know if I will ever go back there. I want to, but it's too soon to say."