The future of the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade rested in the hands of the Supreme Court Wednesday morning, after police gave their final go-ahead for the march to take place at a new venue, but, as originally planned, on Friday morning in the nation's capital. Only a series of appeals to the court to stop the parade - submitted by a varied group of religious opponents including activist Baruch Marzel, ZAKA founder Yehuda Meshi-Zahav and Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai - stood as a potential obstacle to the event.
Why I'll be marching this Friday
Genuine tolerance? Cancel the march
At a Tuesday meeting between police and parade organizers, the Jerusalem District police decided that the parade would be held as originally planned on Friday, and would begin at 11 a.m. Police did, however, insist that the festivities must end and the crowd disperse by 3 p.m. The parade route, which was determined a day earlier, will lead from Kaplan Street, through the government compound (the street connecting the Knesset and the Prime Minister's Office) and end at the stadium at Hebrew University's Givat Ram campus, where a gala rally will be held.
Noa Sattath, the director of the Jerusalem Open House, called on marchers to be sensitive and not show disrespect for religious symbols during the parade.
But the march could be stopped before it even begins, if three petitions signed by religious community leaders, activists and politicians falls on sympathetic ears at the High Court of Justice. The court is due to hear the petitions against the parade on Wednesday at 5 p.m. The petitioners include Meshi-Zahav, represented by Attorney Dror Schossheim, Marzel and Itamar Ben-Gvir, representing themselves, and Efraim Holzberg, represented by Attorney Yoram Sheftel.
Opponents of the parade had threatened to hold violent protests if the parade were held, and such protests could endanger the lives of the protesters, the marchers and the security forces, the petitioners wrote.
The three petitions against the parade gained a high-profile backer Tuesday, when Yishai joined Holzberg's petition as a private citizen, declaring that he opposed the gay parade not only in Jerusalem but anywhere in Israel.
"I am full of hope that at the last moment, the court will not ignore the public danger and will give orders to remove this black affliction hovering over all of us and that this day will not go down in history as a tragedy," Yishai said. "The opposition to the parade of abomination cuts across parties, nations and religions... Those marchers cause damage to the sanctity of Jerusalem, and they do it only out of spite. I have heard the argument that they will hold a smaller parade. There is no such thing as restricting the abomination and the affliction. This march will lead to world-wide social destruction."
Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski also called for a cancellation of the parade.
"This is a time to prove real tolerance and maturity and to cancel the march in the heart of Jerusalem for the benefit of all of us," said the mayor, adding that a cancellation would "renew the strength, recognition, understanding and togetherness which encompass the city."
Lupolianski said that out of a cancellation of the parade, Jerusalem residents would emerge "stronger and experience the goodness of Jerusalem together."
But the state's representative, Attorney Eran Ettinger, said the danger of canceling the parade was greater than that presented by allowing it to be held.
"The police believe that in balancing between the injury to the rule of law and the danger to the state involved in surrendering to violence on the one hand, versus the dangers stemming from holding the parade in its new format on the other, it is right to hold the parade in the new format," Ettinger wrote Tuesday.
Meanwhile, police in Jerusalem and throughout the country continued to plan for the massive operation on Friday to secure the parade, even as there were more face-offs with protesters on major roadways.
Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski was attacked by protesters in Mea Shearim on Tuesday night and needed a police escort after stones were thrown at him as he tried to leave a banquet hall.
Other protests throughout the city Monday night covered many neighborhoods in a haze of smoke, but the large-scale demonstrations in Jerusalem were confined to Mea Shearim Tuesday.
Outside of the city, a group of approximately 150 protesters blocked the road near Modi'in Illit (Kiryat Sefer). The protesters spilled flammable liquid on the road, but were dispersed by police. Firefighters used high-powered hoses to rinse the hazardous liquid from the road, allowing traffic to pass.
Also on Tuesday evening, the Jerusalem District Attorney's Office announced that it would submit an appeal to the District Court against the release from detention of people who were arrested in recent days for participation in protests. The DA's office said dozens of protesters had been detained and brought before the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court and subsequently released.
The Southern District announced Tuesday that approximately 900 police officers, Border Police troops and staff officers from the district would be temporarily assigned to the Jerusalem District to help local police maintain order at the parade. The police officers were divided into three task forces, under the command of three senior district officers.
One Southern District staff officer said Tuesday that the police forces were "a trained and professional force," but emphasized that the redeployment would have no serious impact on the manpower required to maintain security in the district.