Security to be beefed up in Jerusalem ahead of Pride Parade
Hundreds of policemen to fan out throughout downtown Jerusalem, with pre-parade memorial near Modi’in for Shira Banki, killed in 2015 march, before participants make way to capital for what is expected to be largest gay pride march in the city's history.
Hundreds of police, border police, reinforcements and volunteers, including MDA medics will be deployed on Thursday afternoon in prepration for the day's Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem.
The Pride Parade is expected to be the largest in the city's history, with tens of thousands of participants expected to attend. Dozens of vehicles and hundreds of activists will march in the capital’s streets in the Equality Convoy that will kick off the events of the Pride and Tolerance Parade in the city.
The morning's events will begin with memorial ceremonies for Nir Katz, who was murdered in a Tel Aviv youth bar in 2009, and Shira Banki, who was murdered at the Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem three years ago by an ultra-religious extemist, Yishai Schlissel.
Afterwards, a convoy of vehicles will assemble at the train station on the outskirts of Modi'in and head for Jerusalem via Highway 431, driving slowly on Highway 1, before proceeding to the Arazim tunnel, the Begin Highway, Malha interchange and the Pat junction.
The convoy will arrive in the Jeruslem Old Train Station for the commencement of the Gay Pride Parade at 17:00.
The marchers will gather in Liberty Bell Park beginning at 15:45, and at 17:15 they will march via Keren Hayesod Street, King George Street, Hillel Street, Menashe Ben Yisrael Street and Independence Park.
From 15:00, police will close the streets on the march route as well as the streets leading to them, including Agron, Hillel, King George Street from Keren Hayesod to Be'eri, Elhanan, Shalom Aleichem, Mapu, Ahad Ha'am, and part of Gaza Street from Arlozorov to Paris Square, KKL, and Histadrut streets. Roads will be opened in accordance with the progress of the march.
The planned march has been the subject of significant opposition in recent weeks, with Jerusalem being home to both secular, modern Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jews.
At the beginning of the week, graffiti was sprayed next to the monument in memory of Shira Banki. On Tuesday, a pedestrian carrying a gay pride flag near the Central Bus Station was attacked.
Rabbi Yigal Levinstein, Director of the Eli pre-IDF preparatory program, called on his students to protest against what he described as the "abomination parade" and is expected to stage a demonstration, together with his students near the Harp Bridge at the entrance to Jerusalem.
The far-right Lahavah organization and several other ultra-Orthodox groups also intend to protest against holding the parade.
On Tuesday night, the “Pink Panthers,” an LGBT activist group, hung signs in the Haredi city of Bnei Brak, inviting the public to the Jerusalem Pride Parade. Scuffles broke out between locals and the activists who were attacked by a mob, some wielding pepper spray.
Police were eventually called to the scene to rescue the activists. In Jerusalem, LGBT activists painted the city’s “welcome” sign with pride colors.
The “Pink Panthers” say that in recent weeks the LGBT community has been subjeced to vicious attacks by members of the religious establishment, who they say have compared them to terrorists, Nazis and called for their destruction.
They expressed disappointment with the government for not issuing an official condemnation of the attacks against them.
"The gay community is everywhere, there are gay and proud boys and girls among the ultra-Orthodox, the Orthodox, the settlements and everywhere in the State of Israel," an organization statement said. "We call upon them to attend the Equality and Tolerance Parade tomorrow in Jerusalem in order to support the call for complete equality of rights for all citizens of the state."