16-year-old girl stabbed at Jerusalem pride parade dies of wounds


JERUSALEM (JTA) — A 16-year-old girl who was stabbed at the Jerusalem gay pride parade has died.

Shira Banki, a high school student from Jerusalem, died Sunday afternoon at Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Kerem, where she had been fighting for her life after being stabbed in the chest and stomach. Her family agreed to donate her organs, Hadassah announced.

Banki was marching to support her gay friends, her family said in a statement.

“Our magical Shira was murdered because she was a happy 16-year-old – full of life and love – who came to express her support for her friends’ rights to live as they choose. For no good reason and because of evil, stupidity and negligence, the life of our beautiful flower was cut short. Bad things happen to good people, and a very bad thing happened to our amazing girl,” the family said in a statement, which also expressed “hope for less hatred and more tolerance.”

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said in a statement: “The murder at the pride parade in the streets of Jerusalem is a criminal act, and we won’t let it achieve its objective. We’ll continue to allow complete free expression in the city for everyone, continue to support all the groups and communities in the city and Open House. We’ll continue the education to accept the other and tolerance in the education system and won’t be deterred by those who try to prevent this by foul methods.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered condolences to the Banki family in a statement.

“Shira was murdered because she courageously supported the principle according to which everyone is entitled to live their lives in dignity and safety,” Netanyahu said Sunday. “We will not allow the abhorrent murderer to undermine the fundamental values upon which Israeli society is based. We strongly condemn the attempt to instill hatred and violence in our midst and we will deal with the murderer to the fullest extent of the law.”

Yishai Schlissel, a haredi Orthodox man from Modiin Ilit in the West Bank, remains in police custody after being deemed psychologically fit to stand trial on Friday, a day after he allegedly stabbed six marchers. Schlissel had been released from prison three weeks earlier after serving 10 years for a similar attack at Jerusalem’s 2005 gay pride parade.

The Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, a community center in Jerusalem that provides services to LGBTQ individuals, said it and the LGBTQ community in Jerusalem mourned Banki’s death “at the hands of a fanatic, consumed with hatred and fear.”

“The knife that fatally injured Shira was sharpened by years of incitement,” the center said in a statement. “That knife targeted all those who believe in a just society, where every woman and man can live freely, without fear of violence and persecution. That knife has wounded all those who believe in life and in God’s creation.”

The Jerusalem Open House vowed to continue the pride march in Jerusalem.

On Saturday night, police for the second time detained the wife of an unnamed rabbi who has been vocal in his opposition to the pride parade on suspicion that the couple was aware of Schlissel’s plans to attack marchers at Thursday’s parade, the Times of Israel reported, citing Hebrew news reports.

In the wake of the stabbing attack, an Israeli lawmaker announced that he is gay.

Itzik Shmuli of the Zionist Union on Friday went public with his sexual orientation in a column in the Israeli Hebrew-language daily Yediot Acharonot, saying that “it is no longer possible to remain silent.”

“We can no longer remain silent because the knife is raised against the neck of the entire LGBT community, my community,” Shmuli wrote Friday. “It will not stop there. This is the time to fight the great darkness.”

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