After weeks of protests, petitions, security preparations and last-minute attempts to thwart it, the Jerusalem gay pride parade kicked off Thursday at 5 pm.
Thousands took part in the event, which was secured by 7,000 policemen. Some 20 rioters were arrested after protesting against the parade.
Marching in Jerusalem (Photo: Noa Raz)
Shortly before the parade began, the Jerusalem police ordered the cancellation of a party that was set to take place following the rally.
Dozens of rainbow flags and balloons were flown at the junction of Moshe Hess and King David streets, the parade's point of departure. The marchersalso carried signs saying, "Where gays are being silenced, straights will be silenced too."
The participants were handed pamphlets stating that "the purpose of the event is to protest against homophobia and incitement, and promote the community's rights."
The marchers stressed that the fact the parade was taking place despite the massive campaign against it, was a victory for the gay and lesbian community.
Haredim prayer against parade (Photo: Dudi Vaknin)
In recent days, rabbis have called on young haredim not to protest violently against the parade, but to recite prayers instead. Thousands of haredim took part in a mass service in Jaffa Road at the beginning of the parade, during which they recited psalms and carried signs against the gay community and the High Court.
During the parade, some protestors sat down on the ground and started wailing. Additionally, rabbis and religious leaders recited prayers on stage.
Earlier Thursday, police forces detained a resident of the Orthodox Mea Shearim neighborhood in Jerusalem for carrying a makeshift bomb on Jaffa Road.
The suspect said he planned to deter people from taking part in the gay pride parade. The bomb included a pipe and matches. Police said it could have caused bodily harm if detonated.
Efrat Weiss and Neta Sela contributed to the report