Gay Pride event ends in relative quiet
Gay Pride event at Hebrew University’s Givat Ram campus in Jerusalem on Friday. Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski
Following weeks of tension and threats of violence that left Israel’s capital city at the precipice of full-blown riots and bloodshed, Jerusalem’s Gay Pride event came to a relatively quiet end Friday afternoon, leaving police and Jerusalem’s residents breathing a collective sigh of relief.
Jerusalem Police chief Ilan Franco said, "the police and the [residents] of Jerusalem can mark a very important chapter of success in returning to sanity.
"This test was one of the most complex that the Jerusalem Police, and the Police in general have ever been forced to face," said Franco.
Despite sporadic incidents of protest throughout the city, large-scale haredi demonstrations planned to protest the hotly contested event were cancelled on Friday. Instead, announcements broadcast over loudspeakers asked the residents to make their way to local synagogues and read psalms.
Jerusalem Police prevented some 50 gay activists, who had gathered at the city’s Liberty Bell Park from holding a spontaneous march in the direction of the rally, held at Hebrew University’s Givat Ram Stadium.
Twenty of the activists were arrested after they refused to get on buses to the university.
Also in Liberty Bell Park, clashes were reported between the activists and right-wing opponents of the march.
Earlier, police detained a 14-year-old youth after he was caught in possession of spikes. Police suspected that the teen was intending to scatter the spikes on the roads leading to the Gay Pride event. In addition, some 30 sacks of sand were found in Kiryat Moshe. Police claimed that protestors had planned to use the sacks to block roads leading to the event.
Meanwhile, in Jerusalem’s Sacher Park, five religious youths were caught in possession of brass knuckles, clubs, knives and a loaded pistol.
Police arrested the five, who were suspected of planning to violently disrupt the Gay Pride event.
After the event kicked off in Givat Ram, border policemen arrested a 30-year-old protestor who infiltrated the stadium and jumped onto the main stage during one of the performances.
A total of over 3,000 police were set to man event on Friday, and a further 2,500 policemen were due to be deployed in east Jerusalem, the Old City and around the Temple Mount out of concern that Palestinians would riot following Wednesday’s shelling in Beit Hanun that killed twenty Gazan civilians.
Police raised the state of alert to its highest possible level and Insp.-Gen. Moshe Karadi ordered a general mobilization in all departments of Israel Police.
Security services received more than 80 terror attack warnings. Most of them were of a general nature but approximately one quarter of them were more specific.