Israeli teen stabbed at Gay Pride parade dies
An Israeli teen who was stabbed by an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man at this week’s Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem died of her wounds Sunday.
Shira Banki, a 16-year-old high school student, was one of six people wounded in the attack Thursday. Banki went to the parade to show solidarity with her LGBT friends, according to the Israeli news service Haaretz.
In a statement Sunday, Banki’s family said:
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.
The assailant, Yishai Schlissel, was arrested at the scene. Police in Jerusalem have faced criticism for not keeping tabs on Schlissel, who was released from prison just weeks ago after serving time for a similar stabbing attack at Jerusalem’s pride parade in 2005, in which he wounded three people.
In a recent interview with an ultra-Orthodox radio service, Schlissel said of the upcoming parade: “To protest is an obligation in my opinion, but it is not enough,” adding that the goal must be “to disperse them, even by force,” according to The New York Times.
Schlissel was deemed sane and fit to stand trial for his latest rampage Friday, Haaretz reported.
In a statement expressing condolences to Banki’s family, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the slain teen and condemned the attack.
“Shira was murdered because she courageously supported the principle according to which everyone is entitled to live their lives in dignity and safety,” the statement said. “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.”
On Saturday, thousands of Israelis turned out to protest the knife attack and a West Bank arson attack that killed a baby boy Friday morning.
At one rally in Jerusalem, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin told demonstrators that “the flames are spreading in our land, flames of violence, flames of hatred, flames of false, distorted and twisted beliefs. Flames which permit the shedding of blood, in the name of the Torah, in the name of the law, in the name of morality, in the name of a love for the land of Israel.
According to Haaretz, two of those wounded in Thursday’s attack were still hospitalized and in serious condition Sunday, though medical officials said they were improving.