Uri Lev, a member of the LGBTQ+ community from Rehovot, was assaulted in a suspect anti-LGBTQ attack while outside a bar on Herzl St. in the city over the weekend.
"We wanted to go out to a pub in Rehovot, which isn't an unenlightened city like Beersheba, Ashkelon, or Jerusalem," said Lev in a video published to TikTok on Saturday. Lev could be seen in the video with wounds on his face. "Then someone came over, full of self-confidence, and asked if I was gay. I don't hide it, I am who I am. Suddenly I was on the floor, in my city, in my safe place. I didn't think it would happen to me. Another statistic."
The attack is the second anti-LGBTQ assault reported in Rehovot in the past month.
In late July, social media personality Adi Davidov was assaulted while wearing pink and filming a TikTok video outside a mall in the city by young men who threw a stone at his head.
After that attack, the local LGBTQ community held a protest outside the mall against the violence and homophobia in the city.
The Agudah - The Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel - condemned the attack, stating "we received another shocking reminder of the violent reality experienced by members of the LGBTQ community."
The Agudah demanded that Rehovot Mayor Rahamim Malul condemn the recent violence against the LGBTQ community and that the police bring the attacker to justice.
"We are done hiding, we are on the streets and in every city in Israel and a reality that is not safe for LGBTQ people is not a reality that we accept," said the Agudah. "Go out to demonstrate, make your voice heard. In the face of this hatred, it is forbidden to remain silent."
The Rehovot is Proud group condemned the attack as well, stating "We are deeply shocked by the increase in cases of violence against the LGBTQ community and want to thank the local elected officials who condemned the case and helped Uri throughout the day."
"We demand that the municipality of Rehovot officially condemn the attack and work harder for a safe environment in the streets for all residents of the city and members of the LGBTQ community in particular," added the group. "We will use this stage and these events to remind that the local elections will be held at the end of October - this is our time to change the address to the streets and influence the future of the LGBTQ community in Rehovot. This is an important point in the struggle of the LGBTQ community in the city for a safe and equal life."
LGBTQ-phobia on the rise across Israel
LGBTQ-phobia has been on the rise in Israel in recent years and has spiked since the government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took office.
3,309 cases of LGBTQ-phobia were reported in 2022, an 11% increase compared to the previous year. There was a seven-fold increase in the number of LGBT-phobic incidents involving public figures and the media, a five-fold increase in the number of LGBT-phobic incidents in public places and an eight-fold increase in cases of discrimination at businesses.
A survey by the Israeli Institute for Gender and LGBTQ Studies in May found that a vast majority (86%) of LGBTQ+ Israelis across the country report that their sense of security had deteriorated in the prior three months. 77% of the respondents stated that they do not trust the police to protect them.
According to the Agudah, in March there was a four-fold increase in LGBTQ-phobic incidents compared to last March.