Two Years After Still-unsolved murder,Tel Aviv's GLBT Club in Dire Financial Straits

Shaul Gannon, the club's director, says that the club needs just a few thousand shekels a month to continue operating.

On the second anniversary of the murder that took place at the Bar Noar club in Tel Aviv, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Association finds itself facing economic difficulties that threaten the future of its activities. At the same time, the police do not have a lead with which to solve the murder of Nir Katz and Liz Trubeshi that took place at the club on Saturday night, August 1, 2009.

Shaul Gannon, the club's director, says that the club needs just a few thousand shekels a month to continue operating. "Some NIS 2,000 - that's the whole story," he says. "But we don't have anywhere to get it. For other places, this sum may be peanuts; but for us, it is a huge amount."

Mike Hamel, the chairman of the GLBT Association in Israel, says: "The problems stem from the fact that the association's budgets are so poor. We live in a state of total budgetary uncertainty. We have already passed the half-year mark and we don't know where we stand."

Hamel says the association has yet to receive its budgetary support for 2011 from the Tel Aviv Municipality and government ministries.

The GLBT club, located in Ahad Ha'am Street in Tel Aviv, is open every Saturday evening. It serves as a meeting spot for youth from Tel Aviv and outside the city. The number of participants has grown greatly in the past two years, and some 60 or 70 adolescents participate every week in the activities there. Since the murder, an armed guard has been stationed outside the club during such activities. Many of the youth and the counselors say they will not participate unless there is a security guard present.

"Paying for the guard makes things very difficult for us," says Gannon. "There is no one who is prepared to pay for the guard. Regrettably, the club does not get support from the Tel Aviv Municipality and I don't understand why. We also have difficulty raising donations."

Gannon says he is not blaming anyone but is worried about the club's future. "Personally, I feel that we have been abandoned somewhat and that is a shame, because the place is very important to a large number of youth. It is their second home. They get something here that they don't get anywhere else. I am hoping a solution will be found. If no solution is found, we will have to close the club."

However, according to Yaniv Weizman, a member of the city council and the mayor's adviser on gay affairs, "The support for the community's activities has already been approved and I am not aware that transfer of the sums has been held up. I am surprised to hear about this from the media. No organization in the community has approached me about it."

Since August 1, 2009, when an armed man entered the Tel Aviv club and shot and killed Nir Katz, 24, and Liz Trubeshi, 16, the police have been trying to solve the murder. The commander of the Tel Aviv Central Unit, Shlomi Michael, who has headed the team looking into the case, is due to leave his post in the next few days. Michael was given an unlimited budget and the investigation has been one of the most expensive ever carried out by the police in Israel. More than 1,000 people have been interrogated and there has been extensive intelligence work in an attempt to find the murderer. Anyone who was mentioned in connection with the affair was called in for questioning. A court order was issued forbidding publication of anything to do with the affair and nothing more has been published about the investigation.

When the former commander of the Tel Aviv District of the police, Shahar Ayalon, retired from the force earlier this year, he told Haaretz: "I believe the case will be solved but it will be during the term of the next district commander. We know that the murder was not perpetrated by a ghost. The concern was that we were talking about a psychopath who would act again and we were waiting for him to strike once more, but there was no other attempt. In the months after the murder, we were in close contact with members of the GLBT community and we knew all about their activities in Tel Aviv."

Members of the central unit said that they were convinced the case would eventually be solved. They said the investigation was going on at pace and that suspects were still be questioned.

Next Saturday night, a memorial service for the victims is due to be held in Gan Meir in Tel Aviv to mark the second anniversary of the attack.