BACKGROUND / Past Attacks Against Israel's Gay Community

If Saturday's shooting attack aimed to harm the community, it marks a significant escalation.

If the shooting attack at a gay and lesbian youth center in Tel Aviv was carried out with the purpose of harming the gay community, then this event marks a significant escalation in the violence against members of the community in Israel.

The most shocking incident of violence against the gay and lesbian community in Israel up until this point was the stabbing of several participants in the Jerusalem Gay Pride parade in 2005. The stabbing was carried out by an ultra-Orthodox protester who objected to the parade.

In June 2005, 30-year-old Yishai Shlisel stabbed three parade goers, lightly wounding them. Shlisel had purchased the knife only moments earlier, and began running down Jerusalem's King George Street toward the location of the parade. While he ran, he grazed two parade goers and stabbed another. Two police officers at the scene immediately arrested him.

Over recent years, several hate crimes directed at Israel's gay and lesbian community have remained unsolved. In 2006, an explosive device with a note attached, reading "sodomites out" was found at the entrance of a settlement. The explosive device was apparently assembled in efforts to scare parade organizers into canceling the planned Gay Pride parade.

In April, 2007, an explosive device went off in a vineyard near Beit Shemesh. The device, which was hooked up to a trip wire, exploded and lightly wounded a farm worker on a tractor. A search of the area turned up posters condemning the Gay Pride parade that year. One of the avenues explored by police in regard to the incident was the possibility that ultra-Orthodox residents of the nearby Ramat Beit Shemesh were responsible for planting the device. No suspects were apprehended.