Israelis protest fatal shootings at gay center


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Hundreds of Israelis demonstrated to protest an attack on a gay community center in Tel Aviv in which two people were fatally shot. 

The demonstrations throughout the country began Sunday in Tel Aviv near the center, where on Saturday night a masked gunman killed a 26-year-old and a 17-year-old with a machine gun during a support group meeting for gay teens. Five others were injured, including four seriously, according to Ha’aretz.

The demonstrations spread to Haifa in the north and Beersheba in the south, as well as to Jerusalem’s Zion Square.

Police have swarmed the Tel Aviv area in search of the gunman, who was wearing black. They are treating the attack as a hate crime.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the attack at the start of Sunday morning’s weekly Cabinet meeting.

“I strongly condemn the shocking murders that were perpetrated last night in Tel Aviv,” he said. “This morning I spoke with Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch.  I fully back the police in their search to find the murderer. We will bring him to justice and treat him with the utmost severity of the law.

“I would like to take this opportunity to remind all Israelis that ours is a democratic state. We are a nation of law,” Netanyahu said. “Ours is a country built on tolerance, and we must respect all people as they are.”

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