Police conduct reenactment of Tel Aviv gay attack

By SAM GREENBERG IN WASHINGTON
August 5, 2009 00:40
2 minute read.

 
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Tel Aviv police conducted a reenactment on Tuesday of Saturday night's attack on a gay youth support center, bringing a teenager who survived the incident to the basement where a masked man burst in and opened fire. Two people were killed and 11 others wounded in the attack. On Monday night, Police Commissioner Insp.-Gen. David Cohen warned against "tainting sectors and populations with suspicions" following the shooting spree "This is a despicable and cruel murder. A most professional unit has been tasked with solving it," Cohen added. "The Israel Police sees the investigation of this incident as being of the utmost importance for Tel Aviv police, and all means needed to solve the murders will be allocated," he said. A media ban in place on details of the investigation was designed to allow the Tel Aviv district police's elite Central Unit to "collect evidence and reach the suspect," Cohen stressed. He made the comments during a closed-door meeting with Tel Aviv police chief Cmdr. Shahar Ayalon and Central Unit detectives. Meanwhile, some 100 people attended a rally in Haifa to condemn homophobia, one of a series of demonstrations being held by the gay community across the country since the murders. In Washington, rabbis, leaders and activists from the Jewish and LGBT communities spoke at a candle-light vigil Monday night to commemorate the victims of the attack on Tel Aviv's Aguda LGBT community center headquarters Saturday. The vigil drew over 120 participants, many holding signs and banners, who expressed their solidarity with the victims and their families and their determination to end homophobia and the violence it can cause. "We gather here tonight to mourn, to remember, and to make a promise. Here tonight, we mourn the inextricable reality of hate. We mourn the persistence of apathy in the face of intolerance. But above all, we mourn the loss of two young Israelis who, while seeking love and support, were met with terror and violence," Mark Pelavin, associate director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said at the event. "But here tonight, we also make a promise. A promise to preach respect. A promise to seek justice, to speak for righteousness, and to always, always demand equality. A promise to proclaim that bigotry and hatred have no place in our society and that love and tolerance are our cherished religious values." Indeed, Joanna Butler, one of the organizers, said her work did not end with the conclusion of the vigil. "This offense really gives us an opportunity to call on the conscience and see where we are on these issues," she said. On Wednesday, she and the other organizers are meeting to discuss the next steps to take in making sure that LGBT individuals can feel safe in all parts of the Jewish community. Aaron Tax said it was important for him to go to the vigil to "show solidarity with LGBT community in Tel Aviv," especially since he has friends who have been to the center. Speakers included Reform, Conservative and Orthodox rabbis, community leaders and a representative from the Israeli Embassy. The Dupont circle area, where the rally was held, has many young Jewish residents, and is also considered the center of LGBT life in the District. Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.

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