Six people were stabbed at Jerusalem's annual Gay Pride Parade on Thursday. The suspected attacker was identified as Yishai Schlissel, the same man behind the attack on the 2005 parade, recently released from prison.
One woman was critically wounded, Magen David Adom emergency services reported, adding that two men were moderately wounded, and another two men and a woman suffered light wounds. Magen David Adom emergency services treated the victims on the scene, and then rushed them to three different hospitals in Jerusalem.
Police confirmed that the suspected stabber is Schlissel, a Haredi man from Modiin Ilit who stabbed three participants in the 2005 Gay Pride march. He was recently released from prison after serving a 10-year sentence.
Thousands of people took part in the march, which was heavily secured by police. In the Keren Hayesod Street, a haredi man broke into the crowd and stabbed several of the marchers. He was quickly wrestled down by police and arrested. Minutes after the stabbing, organizers and police agreed the march will go on and terminate in the agreed upon location in Liberty Bell Park.
Schlissel was sentenced for 12 years in prison for the 2005 attack after his conviction on charges of attempted murder and aggravated assault. However, in 2007, following an appeal, the Supreme Court mitigated his sentence to 10 years.
After his release, Schlissel returned to his hometown, where residents said that he distributed hand-written pamphlets in which he called on "all Jews faithful to God" to risk "beatings and imprisonment" for the sake of preventing the parade.
The Judea and Samaria Police District said after the attack that they were not supposed to track Schlissel after his release, even though he resides in their jurisdiction, because his crime was perpetrated in the Jerusalem district.
Jerusalem District Police chief Moshe Edry said police didn't have concrete intelligence that Schlissel was in the area of the parade. "We were prepared for every scenario, but our perimeter was breached. This is a severe, hard incident, which required us to investigate to find out what fault cause this breach," he said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the stabbing was a very serious event, and promised that the state will bring the full weight of the law against the suspects.
"In the state of Israel the individual's freedom of choice is one of basic values. We must ensure that in Israel, every man and woman lives in security in any way they choose. That's how we acted in the past and how we'll continue to act. I wish the wounded a speedy recovery," he said in a statement.
Benzi Gopstein, chairman of the right-wing group Lehava, said that while activists from his organization staged a protest against the "abomination parade," they "oppose the stabbing of Jews." He called on the police not to allow the parade to take place in Jerusalem again.
Police had granted a permit to 30 right-wing activists to protest against the event near the Great Synagogue, not far from the marchers. Earlier on Thursday, Israel Police arrested right-wing extremist Baruch Marzel though they denied the arrest had anything to do with the city's annual Gay Pride Parade. Marzel is a member of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party and usually takes part in the annual protest against the parade.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog called the stabbing a "heinous hate crime" and urged the police to allow gay pride events to go on. "Don’t give in to the enemies of everything that's good and beautiful about Israel," he said in a Facebook message.
Education Minister and Habayit Hayehudi chairman Naftali Bennett called the stabbing a "moral crime that cannot be forgiven."
"Whoever did it harmed Jewish and moral values, and must be punished with the utmost severity. When events are clarified Israeli society must do some soul searching to understand how it has come to this," Bennett said.
The Israeli National LGBT Task Force severely condemned the attack, saying that "they feel shocked that serious violent incidents such as this still happen in Israel in 2015."
The Anti-Defamation League extended its solidarity with the LGBT community. "We are shocked and horrified by this heinous attack on a parade that is widely attended and includes government representatives and political leaders," the organization said in a statement.