Gay Parade stabber gets 12 years

Court: "Accused was fully conscious and ready to pay a heavy personal price."

gay parade stabbed 298 (photo credit: Channel 1 [file])
gay parade stabbed 298
(photo credit: Channel 1 [file])
An Israeli man who stabbed three participants in last year's annual Jerusalem gay pride parade was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years in prison by the Jerusalem District Court. Yishai Schlissel, 30, of the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Sefer, was convicted of attempted murder last month for stabbing and lightly to moderately wounding the three revelers with a knife during a boisterous haredi protest against the central Jerusalem parade. After stabbing three people with the knife he had concealed inside his coat, the haredi attacker was quickly wrestled to the ground and arrested on the scene by police. "I came to murder on behalf of God. We can't have such abomination in the country," Schlissel told police during his subsequent interrogation. Schlissel refused to talk to the press following his conviction last month, and would only said that "I don't give interviews to those who bring troubles to Jews." The judges rejected the defense claim that the assailant was suffering from temporary insanity at the time of the attack, and ruled that he was responsible for his actions. "Even if the defendant had reached a point of mental agitation, at the moment he took the knife out of his pocket and got ready to use it he was aware of his actions and their consequences," the three judge panel wrote in their sentencing. In a moment of court drama, Schlissel refused to stand through the duration of the sentencing in court, arousing the indignation of his judges who declared him in contempt of court. "I'm talking to you and therefore you'll stand, you are starting to show contempt of court," an annoyed Judge Zvi Segal told Schlissel to no avail. According to the charge sheet, the assailant purchased the knife ahead of time in order to carry out the attack at the June 30 parade. "The accused displayed extreme fanatical behavior, and made up his mind not to let the parade end in peace at any cost," the judges wrote in their ruling. "He had no tolerance, not even minimal, toward the people who attended the parade because his worldview rejects any compromise. The accused was fully conscious and ready to pay a heavy personal price for his acts," the judges added. The State Attorney's Office had asked the court to sentence the attacker to 10 years in prison. Schlissel was also ordered to pay NIS 280,000 in compensation to his victims. The annual parade, which draws several thousand participants every year, has been the source of repeated debate, with many religious city councilors and a not insignificant number largely-traditional city residents considering such an event inappropriate for a "holy" city. The tensions over last year's event were further fueled in the wake of plans by the homosexual community in Jerusalem to host a week-long international gay festival in the capital. The proposed international gay fest, which was widely criticized by a coterie of Jewish Christian and Muslim religious leaders in Jerusalem and around the world, was subsequently postponed until this year due to last year's concomitant Israeli pullout from Gaza, which tied up police forces. Despite widespread city opposition, organizers are determined to hold the international event this year, setting the stage for a major show-down in the city this summer.