Israeli police contacted dozens of right-wing activists in the run-up to this Thursday’s Pride Parade in Jerusalem to caution them to obey the law and refrain from disrupting the festivities.
Police officers have called the right-wingers, including those who torched a bilingual Hebrew-Arabic school in the capital and others identified with unauthorized Jewish outposts in the West Bank.
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The police are gearing up for the prospect that violence could be directed at participants in the parade, taking precautionary steps following the stabbing attack at the 2015 parade in which a 16-year-old Jewish girl, Shira Banki, was killed.
In a recording of one of the conversations initiated by the police, a man who is identified as a Jerusalem detective asked an activist where he plans to be Thursday. “There is a parade on Thursday,” the policeman says. “Stay in the dorm. Be at home. I am asking you to be careful, to obey the law, not to come to the area there. We are talking about your intentions. If you have the intention to disturb the peace, then that’s not good.”
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The police are planning an increased presence of 2,500 police officers and border police to secure the parade route and the concluding event. Preparations in the field will included a thorough security check for all parade participants. Drones are being banned over concern that they would be used to harm the participants.
Right-wing organizations and religious groups intend to hold counter-demonstrations. Representatives of the Liba Center, an organization describing itself as being "dedicated to preserving the Jewish character of the State of Israel and strengthening the pillars of Jewish society," will hold a protest at the entrance to Jerusalem while Lehava, a far-right anti-assimilationist group, will demonstrate in Liberty Bell Park, adjacent to the parade route.
On Tuesday, a Jerusalem LGBT activist filed a complaint police after he said he was attacked on Monday near the Jerusalem central bus station. He said that a man had threatened to harm him and break the pride flag that he held.
Meretz party activist Eyal Luria Pardes, who accompanied the man who filed the police report, said: “The violence against us is not stopping and we are demanding that the police use every means at their disposal to bring the attacker to justice so that every LGBT [individual] can walk with a gay pride flag in Jerusalem without concern.”
Jerusalem's Pride Parade, being held for the 17th time, will honor the long-time LGBT community members who have fought for recognition and equal rights, including the current struggle against Israel's contentious surrogacy law. The procession will kick off at Liberty Bell Park at 5 P.M. and include a stop where Banki was murdered three years ago.
The parade will continue to Paris Square and culminate in Independence Park, with performances by local artists Dana International and Keren Mor.
Security will be tight and the police will hold inspections among parade participants. The city's main streets will be closed along the parade route, including Argon, Hillel, King George and Mapu.
The police said they would "act decisively against anyone who tries to disrupt the order and proper conduct of the parade."
Nir Hasson contributed to this report.