An ultra-Orthodox Jew who stabbed to death a participant in last year’s Jerusalem gay pride parade was sentenced on Sunday to life in jail plus an additional 31-years in prison.
Yishai Schlissel, who told the Jerusalem District Court that he had no regrets, was also sentenced to pay damages amounting to NIS 2,064,000.
During the 2015 march-turned-horror film, Schlissel went on a stabbing rampage, killing 16-year-old Shira Banki and stabbing and wounding six others – Yarden Noy, Kfir Gil, Noam Eyal, Yael Belkin, Sagiv Satkolshtick and Sheli Bar Niv.
The stabbings prompted across-the-board condemnations, including from Orthodox figures, and drew international attention due to the ferocity of the attack.
“Before us is a dangerous man with no heart,” said Judge Nava Ben-Or, “a brutal man…this man cannot be allowed to traverse the streets of Jerusalem or any other place.”
Schlissel was convicted in April of murder, six counts of attempted murder and one count of causing extreme bodily harm. He was previously imprisoned for 10 years for stabbing three people at the 2005 Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade, and was released from jail only weeks before the stabbing attack last year.
The indictment stated that leading up to the parade, Schlissel had called on ultra-Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem and Modi’in Illit to take action against it, and that on the day of the parade he purchased a 15 cm.-long kitchen knife for the purpose of stabbing participants.
The court in April also criticized the police for allowing him to get to the point where he could go on his stabbing rampage.
According to the court, “From the evidence it is clear that the police was aware of the danger posed by the accused, who was released only shortly before the parade. The unconscionable ease with which the accused managed to penetrate and reach the marchers so that he could perpetrate his scheme until he was arrested, is inconceivable.
“He arrived at a police checkpoint that was placed at the beginning of Lincoln Street, and all that was done was to give him a general order to leave the area,” said the court, noting that the police had not properly learned the lessons of the 2005 attack.
Schlissel eventually managed to perpetrate his attack after joining the parade from a different street.
Police intelligence “was not used wisely... the writing was on the wall, but those responsible to stop it did not read it,” the court concluded regarding the police’s conduct.
At the same April hearing, the court made a plea to the Knesset to pass a law creating controls that the state can place on certain violent convicts even after they are released.
It stated that unlike with sexual offenders, where their release even after the end of their prison time can have restrictions about being under supervision and in a rehabilitation program, there is no legal power to impose such measures on non-sexual but extremely violent offenders like Schlissel – a situation that must be fixed.
From the arraignment in September through Tuesday’s verdict, Schlissel continued a position of refusing to recognize the court’s authority, stating in September: “God, the creator of the world, did not give you authority to judge me, and so I am not interested in asking questions or responding to them.”
When the court asked him to stand at the first hearing – as is customary when addressing the court – he refused, stating, “I am not interested in getting up.”
Despite Schlissel’s continued refusal to agree to have the Public Defender’s Office represent him, or to accept any legal representation, the court in September ordered the public defender present to continue to speak for him in court.
Schlissel refused legal representation since he considers that to be an acknowledgment of the validity of the court proceedings against him.
“Today is yet another milestone in our fight against hatred, violence and darkness towards LGTBQ community,” said Sara– Kala Meir, CEO of Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance. “Unfortunately, Schlissel’s… imprisonment cannot heal our open, bleeding wounds, nor bring back to life Shira Banki. Having said that, we derive comfort from the court’s acknowledgment in the need to condemn people like Schlissel from our society, a major step towards a better world.”