August 1, 2009

Several dead, injured in gay community center attack in Tel Aviv

Developing story--some of the details aren't clear to me yet or are unavailable but there's certainly been an attack and minors were certainly killed in this attack, and they're searching for the gunman. Ah, the magic of Twitter.

(the death toll right now is three if "several" is bothering you, 17 people were SHOT, but it's unsure how many have/will succumb to injury I think...)

UPDATE: BBC says two fatalities now, look below.

Report from Breaking News:

TEL AVIV (BNO NEWS) -- Up to 17 people were shot at a gay community center in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening. A manhunt for the shooter has been launched.
At least three fatalities were among the victims, according to the Haaretz newspaper, and at least six of them were in critical condition, a source told BNO News. The Jerusalem Post put the total toll of wounded at 15.
The shooting occurred at a gay and lesbian center where youth get together every Saturday night, a volunteer at the lesbian and gay community hotline in Tel Aviv told BNO News. At the end of the evening, a gunman dressed in black walked into the center and opened fire.
The Haaretz newspaper quoted the public security minister as saying that it appeared to be a criminally motivated attack. "We didn't have prior information about the shooting," he said.
All gay clubs in Tel Aviv have been closed as police have launched a manhunt for the shooter. Police patrols were seen across the city in the aftermath of the mass shooting.
An LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) activist told Ynet that it appeared to be a "deliberate act against the gay community."
One report indicated that one of the two fatalities was a 17-year-old girl.
Further details were not immediately available.

And from Yahoo/AP:

JERUSALEM – Israeli police say a gunman entered a youth club for gay teens in central Tel Aviv on Saturday night and sprayed the interior with automatic rifle fire, killing three people and injuring 11.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said it was "most likely a criminal attack and not a terror attack." Tel Aviv has been a target for Palestinian militants in the past.
He said the gunman burst into the basement of the Tel Aviv Gay and Lesbian Association and opened fire on a support group for gay teenagers.
Police are searching the area for the gunman, who fled the scene, he said. Roadblocks were set up.
Rescue services said six of the wounded were badly hurt.
"This was a hate crime, a premeditated attack," witness Yaniv Weisman told Channel 10 TV. He said Cafe Noir, the basement club, was popular with youth.
"Those hurt were very young," he said.
Openly gay Knesset lawmaker Nitzan Horowitz said it was "without a doubt the biggest ever attack on the Israeli gay community, we are all in shock."
Witnesses told Israeli media that the gunman was dressed all in black, and described the scene as a "bloodbath."

The AP report calls it a gay "club" while the Breaking News report calls it a community center...I'm willing to bet it's more of a community center but I just thought that was weird.

As a side note, all gay clubs/bars/centers have been shut down in Tel Aviv it looks like, which was how I first heard about this, but I'm guessing this is so the gunman doesn't fucking kill anyone else. Hate crime? Yes, yes I think so.

Great BBC report:

Hundreds of police are reported to be involved in a door-to-door hunt for the masked, black-clad gunman, who witnesses said fired in all directions with a handgun.

At one point, three deaths were being reported but later accounts spoke only of two fatalities - that of a young man and a young woman.

The shootings took place at the headquarters of the local lesbian and gay rights association.


Anon Shabtie, who works at the Evita gay bar close to the centre, told the BBC that the gunman had attacked a place which helped young gay people:

"We have a centre for people who want to go out of the closet or get support from the community and they come there every day and there are people supporting them.

"And unfortunately on Saturday evening there are teenagers coming there and they were like I don't know many guys sitting there with a guy who help them.

"And then the guy came with a helmet on his head and he was shooting them without any reason."
Hundreds of lesbian and gay Israelis held a rally and lit candles in Tel Aviv in protest at the shooting.

One woman said she was "terrified, shocked, surprised, amazed" by the attack "because it was so unexpected".

Yaron Arad, who works at a nearby hotel, said the gay community was part of the city.

"We know that Tel Aviv has a very lively gay community with plenty of activities going around," he told the BBC.

"That's actually the surprising issue, there is not at all any homophobic activity in Tel Aviv.

"Jerusalem does not naturally accept the gay community but here in Tel Aviv it's different, totally different story. A lot of parties, a lot of gay people having fun here. That's why it's so shocking what's happened here tonight."

'Inside knowledge'

Annual gay pride marches are often met with violent protests by ultra-Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem.

The head of Israel's youth Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Association, Yaniv Weisman, told the BBC the gunman must have intended to attack the centre "because it's not a place you can see outside".
He said the gay community was demanding to know why it had been targeted.

"The gay community in Israel, in Tel Aviv, today got a message, a very strong message, a red light, that Israel, Tel Aviv, no longer a safe place to no one," he said.

What was that about how minorities should be under the same ineffectual laws as everyone else?

As more info becomes available I'll update...

blog comments powered by Disqus