2009 Tel Aviv gay centre shooting
|2009 Tel Aviv Gay and Lesbian Association centre shooting|
|Location||Tel Aviv branch of The Aguda (Israeli GLBT Association), Nahmani Street, Tel Aviv, Israel|
|Date||August 1, 2009
|Injured (non-fatal)||At least 15|
|Perpetrators||Unknown (See #Perpetrators)|
The 2009 Tel Aviv gay centre shooting resulted in the deaths of two people and injuries to at least fifteen others at the Tel Aviv branch of the Israeli LGBT Association, at the "Bar-Noar" (Hebrew: ברנוער, "Youth Bar"), on Nahmani Street in Tel Aviv, Israel, on 1 August 2009. A 26-year-old man and a 17-year-old girl were killed. Three deaths were mentioned in earlier reports of the incident but one has since been discounted. Most of the injured were minors; six of those injured were in serious condition. Tel Aviv was subject to a citywide "clampdown" after the attacks as several hundred police launched a manhunt to locate the killer. On June 5, 2013, one of Israel's largest daily newspapers, Yedioth Ahronoth, announced that three suspects had been arrested.
The shooting united critics and supporters alike in condemnation of the crime, with one lawmaker calling it the worst attack against the gay community in Israel's history. The location of the attack—at the heart of what is seen as Israel's most liberal city— has resulted in protests by the gay community.
On the evening of August 1 at around 23:00, an unknown person with firearms entered the "Aguda" building in Tel Aviv, and opened fire on the crowd attending a "Youth get together" event, and immediately escaped thereafter. Two people were killed, and fifteen were wounded. The police had launched a search campaign to find the shooter, and in addition immediately closed most of the entertainment places for the gay community that operated during the same time of the shooting event, for fear of additional shooting.
The gunman entered the building where a weekly event was being held (in the basement), shot in several directions and then fled on foot. The building was frequented by gay teenagers who engaged in social activities and listened to music. The centre was small with one terrace; thus preventing anyone from escaping. They instead hid under a bed and tables as shots were fired. Israeli television said the crime scene was a "bloodbath". Five of the injured were treated at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, while five were treated at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon.
The shooter was masked, dressed in black and used a pistol to carry out his attack. It was not believed his motive was related to nationalist terror. The city's gay community stated the killer had a homophobic motive while police criticized them for rushing to make declarations about incitement being the cause. Police were also investigating leads that the attack may have been due to a personal feud.
A manhunt was immediately launched in an attempt to locate the gunman. Roadblocks were set up in the city. Police shut down all other gay clubs and buildings that had homosexual connections near the crime scene immediately after the shooting in case there were further attacks. Hundreds of police officers were conducting street and door-to-door searches in the city.
Police had discarded the possibility that the shooting was a terror attack.
Police in Tel Aviv accompanied a teenaged survivor of the attack to the basement to conduct a reenactment on 3 August 2009.
Following a police investigation lasting nearly four years, three suspects were arrested. Their arrests were announced on June 5, 2013. A gag order was placed on the details of the investigation. The three suspects, all residents of Pardes Katz, a neighborhood in Bnei Brak, range in ages from 20 to 40. It was later announced that a prominent activist in the Israeli LGBT community had also been detained for questioning.
The Jerusalem Post reported that the shooting was planned by two young men, one of whom believed his teenaged relative had been abused by an activist at the Bar-Noar center. After the shooting, the gunman and his accomplice fled into Tel Aviv. The pistol used by the killer was found by hikers in December 2012 and the suspects were arrested some months later.
On June 11, the gag order was officially lifted. According to police, a few months before the killings, one of the suspects, then 15 years old, came to Barnoar struggling with his sexual identity. There he met with a veteran Barnoar figure, the fourth person to be arrested in the case. Hagai Felician, the teenager's relative, became aware that the teen had been seen a few times at Barnoar, and asked him what he was doing there. The teenager confirmed he had been going there, but that he was raped by the senior figure at the club. Felician allegedly decided to take matters into his own hands, and together with another suspect, Tarlan Hankishayev, and the state’s witness, plotted to harm the activist. On the day of the shooting, Felician allegedly came to Barnoar looking for the activist. Unable to find him, Felician “lost it” and shot those present.
On 23 June 2013, charges were dropped against the other two suspects.
On 10 July 2013, Hagai Felician was indicted on two counts of murder.
Yaakov Felician rape case
On 24 June 2013, it was revealed that Hagai Felician's brother Yaakov was arrested on charges of raping a female attorney who had applied to serve as part of Hagai's defense team. According to Felician's lawyers, she filed a rape complaint only after Felician decided not to hire her to serve on his brother's defense team. Felician claimed the same thing during police interrogation, and was released to house arrest after a polygraph test determined he was being truthful.
The murderous event was broadly covered by the Israeli media, and was widely condemned by many public figures. The President of Israel, Shimon Peres, reacted to the murder, stating that: "The horrifying murder that was carried out yesterday in Tel Aviv, against teenagers and young people, is a murder that civilized and enlightened people cannot accept. Murder and hatred are the two most serious crimes in society. The police must exert great efforts in order to catch the despicable murderer, and the entire nation must unite in condemning this abominable act."  Peres called the culprit a "lowly criminal" and urged the police to apprehend him quickly. Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu also condemned the murder at the opening of his Cabinet meeting  He expressed his "shock and dismay", condemning the "shocking murder" and reminding Israeli citizens that "we are a democratic and tolerant country and we must respect every person as he is".
Nitzan Horowitz, currently the only openly gay member of the Knesset, condemned it as "the worst attack ever against the gay community in Israel [...] a blind attack against innocent youths.
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich, head of Israel's police force, called it "a serious and grave incident". Aharonovitch spoke of going to the crime scene, saying "it was a difficult sight".
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni, a gay and lesbian community contact in Israel, called it a "grave incident", saying "even if all the details surrounding the event are not yet clear, the hatred exists and must be dealt with". She said it should "awaken society to rid itself of prejudice" and "shake up society, and all the circles inherent in it, including the political establishment and the education system, and on this day deliver an unequivocal message against intolerance, incitement and violence, and to act against any manifestation of these".
On August 8, days after the event, the Prime Minister came to the crime scene at "Bar-Noar" in order to show support for the community and the deadly attack on it.
A protest rally was held in Tel Aviv following the shooting, including lit candles. A few hours after this event occurred, a demonstration of a few hundred people took place on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv, and the protesters marched towards Allenby Street, and King George Street until they reached The Municipal Center for the Gay Community, in Meir Park, and on the way chanted "Inciting homophobes, children's blood is on your hands" (Hebrew: הומופובים מסיתים, על ידיכם דם ילדים"", "homofobim masitim, al yedeichem dam yeladim"). The next day, at 17:00 pm, an additional demonstration took place on Rothschild Boulevard, and in addition a protest watch was held in Mount Carmel's range, in Haifa City in the north, a known entertainment place as well, and also in Zion Square in Jerusalem and in the government complex in Beer-Sheba city in the south.
On 3 August 2009, more than 150 Jewish and LGBT people held a candlelight vigil in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C., United States. Rabbis and Jewish community leaders representing Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform congregations were among those in attendance. On 3 August 2009, more than 100 people held a memorial  at the San Francisco LGBT Center organized by the LGBT Alliance of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin & Sonoma Counties and the Jewish Community Federation of the Greater East Bay. Rabbi Camille Shira Angel from Congregation Sha'ar Zahav, Supervisor Bevan Dufty, among others, offered words of meaning. Other rallies were held in Los Angeles, New York City, and Boston
On 31 August 2009, a cousin of Nir Katz — together with the Vancouver Hillel Foundation — organized a candlelight vigil in honour of the victims at the Vancouver Art Gallery in Vancouver, BC, Canada. The evening's service drew about 100 people and served as a rally against hate crime. This vigil also served to mark Shloshim, which in the Jewish tradition is a service to mark the end of the 30-day mourning period following the death. A video recording of this vigil can be found on youtube.com under the title "Vancouver Vigil — In Memory of Nir Katz (1983-2009) Parts 1 through 5". A separate vigil was held in Toronto.
A week after the murder, on August 8, a solidarity rally was held in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv. Twenty thousand demonstrators or more gathered to show solidarity with Israel's gay community, including the victims shot at the center. President Shimon Peres addressed the crowd, saying the shots fired at the gay and lesbian community "hurt all of us — as people, as Jews, as Israelis."  Also attending the rally were Minister of Education Gideon Sa'ar, Minister of Culture Limor Livnat, Minister of Welfare & Social Services Isaac Herzog, various Knesset members, and Israeli singers such as Rita, Dana International, Ninet Tayeb, Amir Fay Guttman, Keren Peles, Korin Alal, Ivri Lider and Margalit Tzan'ani.
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- 'LGBT center shooting: Revenge for sexual abuse of minor' Hartman, Ben. Jerusalem Post, 10 June 2013.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Rabin Square Gay Solidarity Rally.|