Gay Activists Detained
By Yuval Yoaz, Jonathan Lis, Yair Ettinger and Nadav Shragai, Haaretz Correspondents, Haaretz Service and Itim
About 30 activists in the gay community were arrested on Friday after planning to hold a spontaneous parade leaving from Gan Hapa’amon Park in Jerusalem.
The activists had planned the spontaneous march in protest of the decision, approved by police, to turn the planned march into a rally at the Hebrew University stadium at Givat Ram.
Police also detained five religious men at Gan Hapa’amon caught with clubs, knives and a licensed pistol in their possession.
Only a few hundred participants arrived Friday morning in the Givat Ram campus at the designated hour of 11.00 A.M. to attend the rally. By 12.00 A.M. the crowd was estimated to include some 2,000 attendees.
Writer Sami Michael gave the opening speech at the rally, saying "there is more than one way to be Jewish."
A man in his fifties tried rushing onto the stage at the stadium calling out anti-gay slogans. He was detained by police and removed from the premises.
The organizers of the parade proposed the alternative venue in the capital due to the high security alert declared after the shelling in Gaza that killed 19 Palestinians.
Police on Friday have raised alert to its highest level in the face of piling terror warnings across the country and high tesion in Jerusalem ahead of the rally.
3,000 police officers were deployed to secure the gay pride rally, instead of the planned 12,000. The entire remaining manpower of operational policemen is deployed across the country to prevent possible terror attacks, Army Radio reported on Friday morning.
Witness: Police used excessive force Right-wing activists who were also at Gan Hapa’amon confronted the gay activists, and one of the anti-gay protestors was also arrested.
According to the gay activists, the police exerted excessive force against them.
One of them told Haaretz that "police decided to arrest us only after we agreed to its proposed compromise that we leave the park in groups of three, quietly, with no posters and escorted by policemen."
According to him, when the activists began leaving, the police used "outrageous violence" against them, and several activists were beaten up.
The government complex area in Jerusalem is currently fenced off, and all by-passers in the area are inspected by police.
Earlier on Friday, a 14-year-old ultra-Orthodox Jew was arrested in Jerusalem with spikes on his person.
Some 250 religious school students marched in protest of the gay pride rally a short time later.
Police closed down for traffic on Friday morning the streets Ruppin, Wolffson and Hamada near the Givat Ram Campus, as well as all the roads leading to the Western Wall in East Jerusalem.
Ultra-Orthodox agree to compromise Ultra-Orthodox leaders agreed to the compromise proposal following a meeting held Thursday between Jerusalem police commander Ilan Franco and a delegation of ultra-Orthodox leaders headed by Rabbi Yitzhak Tuvia Weiss.
The ultra-Orthodox leaders requested clarifications regarding the parameters of the demonstration, and asked Franco for assurances that the event will be held in a closed and defined area and that the participants will not display any symbol of gay pride outside of the event area.
In addition, the delegation asked that all anti-parade protesters who have been arrested in recent days be released.
According to sources in the ultra-Orthodox community, the sides have reached agreement on all issues with the exception of the release of the protesters and the dropping of all charges against them. The sources said that on that point, the understandings have yet to be finalized.
The delegation was in contact throughout the talks with Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and the leader of the ultra-Orthodox Lithuanian community in Israel, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliashiv, both of whom support reaching a compromise on the issue.
Following the compromise, the High Court of Justice on Thursday rejected the petitions calling for the parade to be cancelled, and authorized the rally. Representatives of the Open House promised the court they would not hold any form of parade.
On Thursday afternoon, ultra-Orthodox leaders in Jerusalem began distributing leaflets throughout the city calling for an end to the public demonstrations against the march.
Nonetheless, police anticipate there will be protests as well as attempts to disrupt the rally. Far-rightists led by Baruch Marzel are planning to protest against the rally. Additionally, police some ultra-Orthodox Jews who are not followers of the rabbis involved in the compromise to protest as well.
The "Open House" organization suggested holding the rally in the wake of police opposition to the march going ahead through the streets of the capital.
During a High Court of Justice hearing, a representative of the State Prosecutor’s Office, Eran Ettinger, told the judges the state prosecution had been briefed by police about the heightened state of alert that had been announced over fears militants would try to stage attacks in Israel.
He said the prosecution would not make a decision on the matter before holding a joint consultation with security forces on Thursday morning.
Meanwhile, the Vatican said it asked its envoy to Israel to convey its regret over the decision to allow the parade to take place.
"The Holy See has reiterated on many occasions that the right to freedom of expression... is subject to just limits, in particular when the exercise of this right would offend the religious sentiments of believers," the Vatican said.
"It is clear that the gay parade scheduled to take place in Jerusalem will prove offensive to the great majority of Jews, Muslim