J'lem Gay Pride Parade May Be Put on Hold Over Security Alert

State prosecution to mull decision after deadly Gaza shelling.

In the wake of the IDF shelling in Gaza which killed 19 Palestinians on Wednesday, state prosecution attorney Eran Ettinger said the gay pride parade slated to take place in Jerusalem on Friday may be postponed.

Police Commissioner Moshe Karadi is expected to ask Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to reschedule the parade for next Friday, Army Radio reported. The two met Thursday to discuss the issue.

During a High Court of Justice hearing, Ettinger told the judges the state prosecution had been briefed by police about the heightened state of alert that had been announced over fears militants would try to stage attacks in Israel.

He said the prosecution would not make a decision on the matter before holding a joint consultation with security forces on Thursday morning.

Meanwhile, the Vatican said it asked its envoy to Israel to convey its regret over the decision to allow the parade to take place.

"The Holy See has reiterated on many occasions that the right to freedom of expression ... is subject to just limits, in particular when the exercise of this right would offend the religious sentiments of believers," the Vatican said.

"It is clear that the gay parade scheduled to take place in Jerusalem will prove offensive to the great majority of Jews, Muslims and Christians, given the sacred character of the city of Jerusalem," it said.

Earlier on Wednesday, the State Prosecutor's Office blasted petitioners against Jerusalem's gay pride parade for complaining of possible acts of violence should the march take place, while at the same time inciting their supporters to violent behavior.

"As the petitioners' right hands are presenting complaints of violence and disorderly conduct, their left hands are fanning the flames of the violence they are protesting," the State Prosecutor's Office said Wednesday in response to three petitions calling for the cancellation of the parade, planned for Friday.

Before High Court deliberations Wednesday afternoon, Ettinger said the petitioners have "declared war" on the parade, using "threats and violence to suppress the rights of the marchers to express their views."

Ettinger said the court must not award "prizes for violence - by forcing police to cancel the march ... the police's activities must be directed not against the participants in the event, but rather against those threatening acts of violence against them."

"Capitulation to violence in this situation is a danger to Israeli democracy," he said.

Intelligence information obtained by police indicates that the principle opponents to the parade are the ultra-Orthodox community and the extreme right, and that the petition is based on the assumption that it is likely to cause violence.

"There is no basis for this assumption," the state prosecutor's office said, "especially when it is voiced by the petitioners themselves."

According to him, it is the responsibility of the petitioners to calm emotions and call on the public to refrain from violence.

"The price Israeli society will pay in the case of surrender to violence will be difficult to bear," he said.

The state prosecutor's office cited "a lack of cleanliness in the legal process," in the cases of extreme right-wing petitioners Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben-Gvir.

The prosecutor's office indicated that on two occasions, Ben-Gvir made statements critical of the parade, saying "Jerusalem is not Sodom," and "He who is not blotted out can expect punishment from the heavens."

In a statement to the High Court, the prosecutor's office referred to an interview Marzel gave the Arutz Sheva radio station two weeks ago.

"The stabbing incident during last year's parade will seem minor in comparison with what is anticipated this year. We have to declare a holy war," he said, encouraging the use of all available means to "stop crimes in Jerusalem and acts of sodomy."