(photo credit: REUTERS)
For Israel’s LGBT community, it’s a painful, lingering trauma; for the Tel Aviv police, it’s a flagship case gone cold.
The 2009 Bar Noar shooting that took the lives of 17-yearold Liz Troubishi from Holon and 26-year-old Nir Katz from Givatayim and wounded 15 others has drawn new attention this week, following the massacre of 49 people in a gay night club in Orlando, Florida.
Imri Kalmann, the chairman of Aguda – The Israeli National LGBT Task Force, said that he doesn’t know of any recent efforts by the police and the community to identify the man who attacked the “Youth Get Together” event at Bar Noar on August 1, 2009.
After the murders, many activists and other members of the LGBT community were interviewed by police, who were in frequent contact with the community. For the past few years, at least since the case against suspect Hagai Felician collapsed in early 2014, Kalmann said he doesn’t know of any outreach by police to the community.
For the LGBT community, the case remains deeply traumatic.
“It’s very much an open wound and what happened in Orlando brought this trauma back. There is the feeling of a lack of security here [in Israel] with the Bar Noar killer still free,” Kalmann said.
After the Orlando attack, a friend asked him whether the community is taking more security measures. “There is a lack of security,” he replied. “It doesn’t matter that this was on the other side of the world, it makes you realize you are a target. We aren’t confident that we’re safe or that this can’t happen again.”
Despite the huge amount of resources and man hours spent on the Bar Noar shooting, the case remains open, and according to an official from the Tel Aviv police, investigators are waiting for new findings that will help push the case forward.
After years of police work that saw detectives going undercover at LGBT parties and the city’s annual gay pride parade, Tel Aviv police announced to much fanfare in June 2013 that they had cracked the four-year-old double murder case. Then-Tel Aviv District head Asst.-Ch. Bentzi Sau had only taken up the post days earlier, and his victory turned almost instantly to humiliation.
The police held a press conference the next day to announce the arrests of Hagai Felician, Benny Felician and Tarlan Hankishayev, while a Tel Aviv judge slapped a gag order on the arrests at the same time the press conference was being held, making police the violators of a media ban on their case.
Six months later, suspected trigger man Hagai Felician was set free, as the state’s witness – Tarlan Hankishayev’s brother – admitted to making up the allegations.
Two weeks ago, as the 2016 Tel Aviv Gay Pride Parade was held, Felician was again in the news, as police confirmed that they placed him and his family under surveillance as the parade was held, along with several other persons of interest in the central region, who they feared might try to harm participants in the march. Police said that the move wasn’t based on any new evidence against Felician, and only for the sake of public security.
This week, Tel Aviv police would not confirm whether or not they still believe any members of the Felician family were involved in the murders or if there are any new developments in the case.