More than 70,000 people thronged Tel Aviv on Saturday evening for an event to express solidarity with the homosexual community after a deadly attack on a gay club a week ago, organizers said.
Israeli President Shimon Peres was among speakers at the meeting on Yitzhak Rabin Square outside the city hall.
“The shots which struck this proud community affected us all as human beings, as Jews and as Israelis. The man who targeted the two victims targeted all of us,” Peres said.
Two people died when a masked, black-clad gunman opened fire on the group of young gays and lesbians at the entrance to the community center in the heart of Israel’s commercial capital late on Aug. 1.
“Everyone has the right to be different and proud. No one has the right to interfere in other people’s lives so long as everyone respects law and order,” Peres said. “I came to share your tears after the death of two young innocents. Be strong and courageous.”
There was a strong police presence following threats made over the Internet or by telephone. Police said an ultra-Orthodox soldier suspected of being behind some of the threats has been arrested in Jerusalem.
ON THE LOOSE
Investigators, who are still looking for the gunmen, are working on the theory that the attack was personal vengeance rather than being motivated by anti-homosexual views.
An opinion poll published on Thursday said almost half the Israeli population considers homosexuals to be deviants.
Forty-six percent of the 498 people interviewed answered yes to the question “do you see homosexuality as a perversion?” and 42 percent said no, the Haaretz newspaper said.