20,000 attend Tel Aviv rally for gay club victims

Peres: To freedom we were born, and in freedom we will live; before rally, activists receive threats.

gay vigil jerusalem 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi)
gay vigil jerusalem 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi)
Some 20,000 people converged on Tel Aviv's Kikar Rabin on Saturday night for a solidarity rally in memory of the two people killed in last week's shooting attack at a gay youth club in the city. Organizers claimed there were some 70,000 attendants. President Shimon Peres told the crowd, "We are a nation of 'Thou shalt not kill'. Those shots hurt us all, as Jews and as Israelis. "All people were created in God's image," the president continued, "and all citizens have equal rights. All men are born equal, and every citizen has the right to be who he is - to be free and proud. "To freedom we were born, and in freedom we will live," Peres said. Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar, Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai and Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz, who is openly gay, also attended the event. Several musicians performed at the gathering, including Rita, Dana International, Ninet Tayeb, Amir Fay Guttman, Keren Peles, Corinne Alal and Ivri Lider. The vigil was organized by Gal Uchovsky, a gay film producer and TV personality. On Saturday evening, a soldier was arrested in Jerusalem for posting death threats on a gay Internet forum. The suspect, 20, serves in the Nahal Haredi battalion. "He threatened to attack the gay community. He wrote things like 'get ready for another hit. It's coming. Don't say you weren't warned,'" Jerusalem Police spokesman Shmulik Ben-Ruby told The Jerusalem Post. The threats were posted on the Ga'ava (Pride) Internet forum which serves the gay and lesbian community. "We have seized his computers," Ben-Ruby added. Meanwhile, in Haifa, activists who organized buses to carry people to Tel Aviv's rally on Saturday evening reported receiving telephone death threats. One organizer said he got a call from a man threatening to throw grenades at the buses. A police escort accompanied the buses on their route from Haifa to Tel Aviv. A similar threat was received by organizers in Beersheba. Police said they viewed the threats gravely and were trying to trace the callers. Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.