Protest erupts as Israeli police close case on homophobic far-right attack despite video evidence: ‘We will not be silent’

On Wednesday (19 April) protestors gathered outside Tel Aviv’s police headquarters to condemn the service for closing an investigation into a homophobic attack just 10 days after it was launched. (Twitter/@bar_peleg)

The Israeli police have been met with protests after closing the case on a homophobic attack where a Tel Aviv apartment displaying a Pride flag was vandalised by far-right youths.

On Wednesday (19 April), protestors gathered outside Tel Aviv’s police headquarters to condemn the closure of the investigation just 10 days after it was launched, despite copious video evidence of the incident.

The attack saw several right-wing youths approaching an apartment building in Tel Aviv’s Montefiore neighbourhood after a weekly mass demonstration against the government’s planned judicial overhaul. 

Youths were heard chanting “leftists go home” and “Kahane lives” and they were filmed while trying to tear down a Pride flag and throw stones at the apartment window, which eventually shattered.

Reacting against the closure of the investigation, pro-LGBTQ+ demonstrators waved rainbow flags and chanted “homophobia begins in the halls of the government”, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported. 

Footage of the protest posted to Twitter notes around “200 protestors” attended and claims an “increase in violence against the community” has occurred following the case being reported on by media outlets. 

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A resident of the apartment that was targeted, Shoval Hachmon, said: “No one should have to live in fear in their country, in their streets and especially in their homes.

“The LGBTQ+ community was always and will always be a part of this country, no matter how much they try to oppress us, humiliate us, take our rights away or silence us – we will not be silent.

“Sadly, any disregard from the institutions that are supposed to protect us in this country give their unofficial approval for homophobia and transphobia, for attacking and persecuting members of the LGBTQ community.”

Hila Peer, chairwoman of the AGUDA association for LGBTQ+ equality in Israel, addressed the crowd, accusing police of “abandoning the personal safety of the queer community and adopting the spirit of their queerphobic commander” in the government. 

Peers’ comment referenced far-right politician and national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir

According to Haaretz, there were at least two separate videos showing the youths making their way to the area, and additional footage captured by witnesses shows them throwing rocks. Witnesses with video evidence were reportedly never questioned by police.

Haaretz also reports that social media researchers who analysed the recoding were able to identify some of the suspects. 

Increase in Israeli LGBTQ+ visibility in 2023

In Israel, homosexuality is legal and partially protected, but it is seen as immoral by a worryingly high percentage of the population.

A 2019 survey from the Pew Research Center found that 45 per cent of Israeli people believe society should not accept homosexuality, compared to 47 per cent who feel it should.

Thankfully, LGBTQ+ representation in the country is increasing, and with it an understanding that the queer community deserves the same rights and protections.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis came out in defence of the LGBTQ+ community after the appointment of Israel’s first openly gay speaker, Amir Ohana, who was elected as the in December 2022.

During an interview with Channel 13, the United Hebrew Congregations rabbi told religious members that every human was created “in the image of God”.

Anyone who has witnessed or experienced a hate crime is urged to call the police on 101, Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or visit the True Vision website. In an emergency, always dial 999.