Thousands march in Tel Aviv gay solidarity rally

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Tens of thousands of Israelis demonstrated in solidarity with Israel’s gay community at a rally in Tel Aviv.

Saturday night’s rally also was a show of support for the victims of last week’s shooting at a Tel Aviv community center for gay and lesbian youth in which two were killed and a dozen wounded.

Israeli President Shimon Peres addressed the crowd, which organizers put at 70,000 and police at 20,000.

"The bullets that hit the gay community at the beginning of the week struck us all as people, as Jews, as Israelis," Peres said.

"All people were created in God’s image," he added, "and all citizens have equal rights. All men are born equal, and every citizen has the right to be who he is — to be free and proud.

Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai and Meretz lawmaker Nitzan Horowitz, who is gay, were among those attending the rally.

Popular Israeli musicians Rita, Dana International, Ninet Tayeb and Amir Fay Guttman performed at the gathering.

Threats of grenade attacks were made to rally transportation organizers in Haifa and Beersheba during the day on Saturday.

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