Not only is political or nationalistic terrorism a problem, but that against certain interest groups too. A long gunman wearing a mask burst into a central Tel Aviv gay community center late Saturday night, firing an automatic weapon at the crowd of young people who had gathered there. The result left two persons dead and at least 12 more wounded; four of them critically. The center, located on Nahmani Street, off Ahad HaAm, was a well known meeting place for young homosexuals and lesbians, as well as for those who werenâ€™t quite sure what their actual sexual “orientation” really was, but needed a place to discover themselves. Most of the victims of the shooting were teenagers between 16 and 18. The two killed included a male counselor, Yaniv Katz (26), and a young woman, Liz Tarbishi (17).
The attack sent shock waves throughout the entire Tel Aviv entertainment sectors, as many thought this was a Palestinian instigated terror attack. It was an act of terror, all right, but one of a different form and apparently meant to target the city’s homosexual and lesbian communities, considered to be the largest and most open in the country â€“ if not the entire Middle East. So far the lone gunman has not been apprehended, who witnesses said was “dressed in black”.
Police Chief Inspector General David Cohen called the attack “a most serious act” and one in which his police force will utilize all its resources to capture the perpetrator
and any possible accomplices. Israel Gay Youth organization chairman Yaniv Weizman said that the victims “were teenagers to came to center from all parts of the country to receive help and talk to each concerning their apprehensions regarding being gay.” He added that people coming to the center, which also served as a social center, thought that this was a safe place to meet, and was not meant to be pub or nightclub.
“Today, however, someone sent a message that members of the gay community in Tel Aviv are not safe. Someone knew what was going on here”, Weizman added.
The last serious act concerning gays in Israel occurred in Jerusalem in 2005 when two Gay Pride marchers were stabbed by a member of Jerusalem’s Haredi ultra orthodox community.