Netanyahu: Israel a country of tolerance
Prime minister tells cabinet meeting full force of law must be used against person who murdered two youths in attack on Tel Aviv gay and lesbian center. Minister Shalom refers to incident as 'terror attack'. President Peres: Enlightened and civilized nation cannot accept this murder
"I spoke to the internal security minister this morning and asked him to act so that the murderer faces trial and so that the full force of the law is used against him," Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting.
"I send my condolences to the families of the victims and wish the wounded a speedy recovery. I would like to take this opportunity to say to all of Israel's citizens: We are a democratic country, a country of tolerance, a law-abiding state, and we will honor every person regardless of his or her beliefs," he added.
The names of the two victims were cleared for publication Sunday morning: Nir Katz, 26, of Givatayim, and Liz Trubeshi, 16, of Holon. Other government ministers addressed the incident as well on Sunday morning.
President Shimon Peres also addressed the anti-gay shooting in a special statement Sunday, saying that "the shocking murder carried out in Tel Aviv yesterday against youths and young people is a murder which a civilized and enlightened nation cannot accept."
The president added, "Murder and hatred are the two most serious crimes in society. The police must exert great efforts in order to catch the despicable murderer, and the entire nation must unite in condemning this abominable act."
Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar (Likud) told reporters before entering the cabinet meeting that he lives not far from the scene of the attack. "It took place two minutes from my house. I was there last night. The place where the incident took place raises suspicions that the act was based on hatred.
"This is where we have to say out loud, in a clear voice, that Israel will continue to be a free country, where each citizen is free to choose his way of life according to his own will."
'Hatred and violence must be denounced'
Vice Premier Silvan Shalom said, "This is a shocking and serious incident, with young people hurt for no fault of their own. We cannot call it by any other name except a terror attack, and it requires a strenuous investigation at the end of which the murderer will face trial."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that "the law enforcement authorities must do all they can in order to oppress this type of criminal action."
Minister Avishay Braverman (Labor) added, "It's horrifying. This hatred and violence must be denounced. These are things which have happened in the past in the world and are now moving here. The answer is no to violence. We must accept the different and the other."
Science Minister Daniel Hershkowitz (Habayit Hayehudi) said, "This is a serious crime. A murder is a murder. Even if someone doesn’t agree with their way, no one has the right to take another person's life."
Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat (Likud) said that the incident "does not reflect the Israeli society. Such an ugly demonstration of hatred must not return the homo-lesbian community into hiding places.
"This shooting attack was carried out by a despicable person who hates pluralism and made youths his target. We must do everything in order for him to face trial and use all force of the law against him," she added.