J'lem Police commander: Pride parade to continue as planned
Following discussions with the police and threats from radical groups, the Jerusalem gay pride parade will continue with no changes to its route. Jerusalem Police Commander Yoram Halevi: 'any and all attempts to disrupt the parade will be met with a firm and resolute response.'
The Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance is set to continue on its planned route despite threats by extremist elements to disrupt it, said Jerusalem District Police Commandner Yoram Halevy.
"Any and all attempts to disrupt the parade will be met with a firm and resolute response, and they will be arrested and prosecuted," Halevy warned.
This statement comes following a controversial decision to change the route of the Be'er Sheva pride parade due to various threats of disruption.
The Jerusalem police have carried out a series of actions to prevent and defend against these provocateurs. "As part of the overall Pride Parade preparations, I have instructed the police department to carry out a number of actions, including bans on certain people, issuing warnings to certain people, and preventing people with the intention of attacking the parade (from approaching it)."
"At the end of the situational assessments which were presented to me, along with determining the risks of operational deployment, I have decided not to move the parade route, and to continue with the plans which were presented to me by the parade organizers. This is being done as a legitimate fulfillment of the freedom of expression," Commander Halevy added.
He highlighted throughout the briefing that he is the head of the operations to protect the parade, partly due to the security failures in last year's Jerusalem pride parade which saw pride marcher Shira Banki murdered and six others wounded by ultra-Orthodox extremist Yishai Schlissel.
Police arrived at Schlissel's family home on Wednesday to bring in several family members for questioning. Following the questioning, some of them had restraining orders issued against them, barring them from entering Jerusalem until the march's completion on Thursday.
Schlissel's brother, Michael Schlissel, was arrested on suspicion that he intended to harm the marchers. His detention has been authorized for one day.
Itamar Ben Gvir, the lawyer representing the mother and her children who were brought in for questioning, said, "The police admitted to most of those questioned that there was no basis for detaining them; it's abuse of the family members just because they're relatives of Yishai Schlissel."
Meanwhile, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barakat said, "I won't march (in the pride parade. –ed) because I don't want to be part of the harm to the ultra-Orthodox public and the Religious-Zionist public."