Neria and Kevin were preparing their Shabbat dinner table at their home in Jerusalem when a yeshiva student decided to throw a stone through their window, narrowly missing Kevin's head, in the first of two homophobic attacks against the couple within a matter of weeks.
"It is terrifying that in the State of Israel things like this are happening," wrote Neria on his Instagram. "Miraculously [the stone] passed over Kevin's head and didn't hit him."
"One of the students from the yeshiva across from us saw us and this is what he thought was the right way to respond, to kill gay men!" wrote Neria, adding that he called the police but they could not do much in this case.
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Earlier this week, two weeks after the first attack, Neria and Kevin were assaulted again by yeshiva students while entering their home.
"Three boys from the yeshiva across the street sat next to the doorway of our house, they got up and approached us and began to curse and spit at us. 'Get out of here, Jerusalem is not for you,' 'children of s*&$s,' 'Jerusalem needs to be purified of all gays.'" wrote Neria. "They entered the yard and one of them kicked the gate strongly and began to threaten us."
"I'm 'datlash' (a secular person who used to be religious), [I] understand the religious world, I come from a house like this but one that is respectful and doesn't raise a hand against anyone and doesn't curse, and doesn't try to kill another person because of choices he made," added Neria.
Neria stressed that he served in the military and fought for the State of Israel. "I gave from myself for the state and it does not make sense that I receive spitting in my face and threats on my life!"
"I am not asking for support or encouragement," added Neria. "I want you all to understand, to see how awful and how sad the situation in our state is. Freedom of choice? There isn't any here! I really do not need to live my life in fear or in hiding. Since when is loving a crime?"
The Aguda - The Association for LGBTQ+ Equality in Israel - and the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance have appealed to the police and the Jerusalem Municipality to clarify the matter with the yeshiva in question and place security cameras on the street where Neria and Kevin live.
"These harsh assaults remind us of the sad reality that every three hours there is an incident of violence or hatred against the LGBT people," said the Aguda.
"The police are expected to prosecute the perpetrators to the full extent of the law and act with zero tolerance for LGBTQ-phobia," said the Aguda. "The Aguda's reporting center is in contact with the couple and accompanying it. Have you experienced a case of LGBTQ-phobia? You're not alone."
Some 2,971 cases of LGBTQ-phobic hate and violence were reported in Israel in 2021, the highest number reported since the first report was issued for data collected in 2013, according to the ninth annual report on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer-phobia by the Nir Katz Center of Aguda published in February.
The figure marks a 10% rise compared to 2020 and means that, on average, a case of LGBTQ-phobia is reported about every three hours. 9% of the cases reported to the Nir Katz Center in 2021 took place in the Jerusalem area.
The 20th Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance is set to take place on June 2 this year, the Jerusalem Open House announced in January.
"20 years of marching make it clear and unequivocal that the proud community in Jerusalem is here to stay," said Alon Shahar, director-general of the Jerusalem Open House, at the time. "When on a daily basis we hear over and over again about the removal of Pride flags, violence and discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in the city, it is clear to us that our struggle is still far from over. We invite all residents who value equality and human dignity to come and take part in the Pride march in the capital."