After weeks of anxious preparations, thousands gathered in Jerusalem on Thursday for the annual pride march. Mayor Nir Barkat opted not to make an appearance, as did the usual multitudes of ultra-Orthodox protestors.
However a relatively small number of haredim and right-wing activists did stage a protest near the route of the march.
Heading out from Liberty Bell Garden, the pride participants will walk along King David Street towards Independence Park, where performances and activities will be held.
MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) called the pride march in Jerusalem "a march for the character of the capital of Israel as a free pluralist city, not Tehran."
A number of right-wing activists led by Baruch Marzel held a protest at Paris Square, several also hurled eggs at people taking part in the march. Plainclothes policemen deployed nearby detained the one activist who was successful in hitting a pride participant.
Jerusalem Pride 2009 (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
This year's march drew considerably less protests than previous years, which at times because physically violent. The ultra-Orthodox community initially said it would not protest the march this year so as not to expose children to its existence, however flyers began emerging in the early afternoon hours in haredi neighborhoods calling residents to protest. There are elements within the ultra-Orthodox community seeking revenge on Barkat over his decision to open a municipal parking lot on Shabbat, the pride march could be used to ignite haredi riots again.
The mayor however, already announced he would not attend the pride events. "I will not be at the pride march, I have my own reasons," Barkat said earlier this week. Municipal officials said they believed Barkat too greatly fears a resurgence of ultra-Orthodox rioting.
The organizers dedicated the march this year to celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in the US.
Efrat Weiss contributed to this report