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3 Aug 2009

Gunman kills 2 at Tel Aviv gay community centre

A masked gunman walked into community center on Saturday night and "fired all over the place", killing a 16-year-old teen and 26-year-old youth counsellor.

A shooting at a gay and lesbian community center in Tel Aviv in which three were killed and 10 wounded has rocked the gay community in Israel. Tel Aviv is known to have a bustling gay scene although open homosexuality is less welcome in conservative areas.

[Top: Nir Katz, a 26-year-old youth cousellor was one of two people killed on the scene; last image: hundreds held a vigil at near the centre hours after the attack. Click on this link for more images at the scene.]
Media reports quoted witnesses as saying that a masked gunman clad in black entered the centre on Nahmani Street and opened fire with his pistol at about 10.40pm on Saturday night in a basement club belonging to the Tel Aviv Gay and Lesbian Association, which was hosting a weekly event for gay and lesbian teenagers. He then fled the scene on foot.

According to an Agence France-Presse  (AFP) report, the third victim died in hospital while one of the 10 wounded is in serious condition. 

Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld identified the two who were killed as Nir Katz, a 26-year-old man, and Liz Tarbushi, a 16-year-old self-described straight ally. "Although I am not a part of the Igy [lesbian gay youth] community I really love being with them," Tarbushi wrote on the youth organisation's online forum a few months ago. 

Katz is a reportedly a gay activist and youth counsellor at the centre. His sister Chen was quoted as saying in the San Francisco Sentinel as telling Army Radio on Sunday: “Nir came out of the closet when he was 20, and since that moment wore the flag of gay pride on his sleeve, believed in what he was doing and always walked with his head held high.”

Police are treating the shooting as a hate crime, Rosenfeld said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday has strongly condemned Saturday night's deadly shooting attack and urged all Israelis to "respect all people as they are." 

President Shimon Peres on Sunday called the incident a "shocking murder… in which a civilised and enlightened nation 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," the president said.

Nitzan Horowitz, an openly gay legislator, told the Haaretz Newspaper that the shooting should be considered a hate crime against the community - regardless of the real motive of the gunman.

"Someone who goes in with a mask, with the goal of killing as many gay young people as possible, has committed a hate crime."

"We will continue our activities. We will fight back at anyone who tries to kill us. Years of unremitting incitement from MKs [Member of Knesset (Israeli parliament)], rabbis and public figures have exacted a heavy price," he continued.

He said that he had no doubt there was a connection between the latest killings and what he termed incitement against the gay community in Israel.

"I attribute this to the general incitement and hate with which we have been contending for years in this community." 

The Haaretz reported that within 90 minutes of the attack on the center, hundreds of people gathered nearby, spontaneously. Some embraced one another and cried. 

Said Nadav, 31, who arrived at the scene with his partner: "We thought these children were growing up in a different world from the one in which we lived at their age. But it was actually they who suffered a blow, which we never knew even in the darkest periods of the past." 


Reader's Comments

Comment #1 was deleted by its author on 2009-08-03 13:43
2. 2009-08-03 13:44  
Police are treating the shooting as a hate crime against the gay community, Rosenfeld said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday has strongly condemned Saturday night's deadly shooting attack and urged all Israelis to "respect all people as they are."

President Shimon Peres on Sunday called the incident a "shocking murder… in which a civilised and enlightened nation cannot accept."

ROLE MODELS for other national leadership.
3. 2009-08-03 14:39  
Heartbroken & disturbed, this pisses me off.
My deepest condolences to victims' family & friends.
4. 2009-08-03 16:26  
This was actually the more disturbing news in the gay websites this week. I honestly can't comprehend how a supposed open and civilised populous like Israel would have such people.

But then, hate crimes like this one have been occurring a lot lately on an international scale.
5. 2009-08-03 18:17  
I live in Tel-Aviv and proud to live in a nation that accept gays and prohibit any discriminations.
I am sad and sorry for what happened but nothing will bring us back to the closet!
Condolences to the families and quick recovery for those who were injured.
Hope that other countries such as Malaysia and Singapore will follow us and listen to our PM and president.
Today, the Knesset (IL parliament ) hold a special session to condem this terror attack.
6. 2009-08-03 19:05  
I was browsing one of the most important newspapers of my home-country, and the news said "Telaviv: exchange of shooting kills 2 at gay bar". Then, i read this news on fridae.com. Then, i went to The Jerusalem Post to confirm it. I was appalled.
And then, I got totally pissed off, how in all manners they try to brings us down and minimize the atrocities that gay people are victim of!It was not an innocent mistake.
This god damn discrimination and violence has to stop: it is not ok to be a homophobic, period!Not behind a desk, not in a parliament, nowhere!I'm sick of them
I already sent a complaint to the retarded journalist, as well as told a left-wing journalist who is very pro-gay activist and writes at the same newspaper.
7. 2009-08-03 22:36  
I'm crying now.
8. 2009-08-03 23:23  
how come they treat us like this....
we even dun want to choose this way... but we were born to live this way.
we r human being too.....

wish this will not happen again in this earth...
Deep Condolences to all victims n Family...
Got well soon for those who got injured...

9. 2009-08-04 00:24  
we must stand up, hand in hand against hate crime and criminal
10. 2009-08-04 00:58  
let's pray for Nir Katz and Liz Tarbushi, may they rest in peace
for the shooter.. WE ARE STAND STILL! go to hell homophobic! we are gays and lesbians - same as others human being, not like you.. well i don't really know what you are!
11. 2009-08-04 01:07  
Hate-crimes against gays are almost always commited by people who's anti-gay views have been shaped in some form or other by their religious beliefs, especially by the likes of Islam, Christianity & Judiaism.
12. 2009-08-04 01:35  
this goes to show there is still more work to be done to bridge the gap between people.
13. 2009-08-04 04:52  
My deepest condolences and sympathy to the families and loved ones of the affected parties. :(

Hate crimes are always committed by cowards and losers on innocent people. Like I've said b4 many a times, these dysfunctional manipulated digits are brain washed by their misguided religious beliefs. Sad era for humanity entering into the prophesied period of doom.>:(
14. 2009-08-04 10:50  
Take note, stinking government of Singapore and all other governments who embolden religious bigots.

If this ever happens again in any of one of countries, we are going to hold you personally responsible; you will have blood on your hands.

Sometime in 1999 or 2000 when I was still in Singapore, I read about the university professor who was murdered and the criminal got off easy.

Last year, in the incident in which six men murdered a gay man in Singapore, the courts again let off all six men easy with sentences no different from those for littering.

And these are only the cases that we know for sure that the victims were gay. We know that there are many others that are being covered up.

Don't be surprised if gays become even more militant as a result of this: you get exactly as much as you ask for.
Comment edited on 2009-08-04 10:52:25
15. 2009-08-04 12:03  
This bring tears to my eyes........It is so sad that people can treat people like this.............I only hope that through this maybe something good will come to these people........better communication if nothing else.
16. 2009-08-04 12:49  
so sad to read this news -*-

wanna cry :(
17. 2009-08-04 14:46  
My deepest condolences to victims' family & friends.
shocking news, so young and for what?????????????
im very sad of this news

18. 2009-08-04 20:39  
May the victims rest in peace.
Gun control is a major issue for many Western countries.
19. 2009-08-04 21:46  
Israel, you are one amazing nation!

after the period roughly from Abraham to Jesus, you re-emerged after nearly 2,000 years of historical diaspora to be recognised by the world as a nation in 1948. this was, not coincidentally, after one of the most evil hate-crimes - the holocaust- was perpetrated against your people by Adolf Hitler, who also hated and executed homosexuals, among others. if he had succeeded, i have no doubt all believers would have been next.
Jerusalem, even now, at least one neighbour of yours would want to blow you off the map by a nuclear device, if they could, and suicide bombers are now a daily danger. but i believe that you will definitely be around to play the pivotal role in the closing chapter of history - Armageddon (not the Bruce Willis movie, nuts :) but the mount of Megiddo, where some believe the last world war will play out. Little Israel, much loved or hated, by any measure, you are special!

as for hate, i'm sorry that this human emotion, whether tribal or personal, doesn't surprise me - although all it takes is just one nutcase with a bomb or an automatic rifle to set off more hatred, violence and tragedy. in fact, i can sense some hatred, justified or not, right here in one or two of the above comments...

i hope this was an isolated incident by one nutcase. we all mourn your loss in this shooting, Tel Aviv. i have been there and i enjoyed eating your streetside falafel, bargaining for a leather carrier with a bright Palestinian Israeli kid, being taught by a wise Jewish tour guide at the holocaust memorial, and walking along your city beaches...

love and Shalom :)
Comment #20 was deleted by its author on 2009-09-10 19:35
21. 2009-09-10 19:37  
Oldfren, I personally the following comments below an oxymoron:

"as for hate, i'm sorry that this human emotion, whether tribal or personal, doesn't surprise me - although all it takes is just one nutcase with a bomb or an automatic rifle to set off more hatred, violence and tragedy. in fact, i can sense some hatred, justified or not, right here in one or two of the above comments..."

You condemn the terrorists who 'set off more hatred, violence'etc, yet you are pointing fingers at their most wanted targets- the gay people., bt accussing them of 'hatred'. It's a lot like justifying ' It's unfortunate that the girl's raped, bt she's so flirtatious & wears sexy clothing & is drunk, so she deserved it " Nice. Typical
fundie-mentality, bt nt surprising cause it's so simple to detect ;)
Pls do us a favor- BUGGER OFF.
Yup- call me rude, uncouth, hurtful, whatever bt unlike you, I don't hide my contempt behind a mask. Or a smile. Toodles.

As for Israel, I do feel a personal affinity for the country & its people- my dad's part Jewish. So I'd like to say- Shalom to the victims of this senseless crime, Nir Katz & Liz Tarbushi. May your spirits & positive energy prevail.
22. 2009-11-10 09:18  
23. 2009-11-10 10:15  
So, "girlongirl", i suppose perhaps i should spend some precious time here after all, regarding Comment 21, which i would not have seen so belatedly, except that i was checking something else.

Your sentiments above seem to indicate that you would - with honest contempt - approve, at least tacitly, if some "gay" nutcase responded to the incident, and threw a bomb into a "straight" bar. And then what? More retaliations? And what is that bit about being raped and asking for it about? We've all been hurt, so please get some help if you need it. Until then, please do those of us who are trying to choose peace over prejudice a favour, and bugger off. No, it's not gentlemanly, but you would prefer it over tact, right? No, if you're going to propogate hate, it really would be best if you bugger off. Many of us here are trying to leave the hurt behind and celebrate our diversity. If you want an exclusive club of only those who agree with you politically, then go start one in whatever country you belong to, if it's allowed there. Ironically, exclusivity is what has hurt many of us here. Fortunately, the "lesbians" i have met in real life are gracious, thank God, and i "love" them (do i really need to say platonically?) so i am not prejudiced by your lapse. i think you're just frustrated. Well, so am i sometimes, when caught between different kinds of prejudice. So you are part Jewish. Congratulations. As i said, the Jewish people are special. So where is your Jewish wisdom and sense of humour? Or are the other parts in conflict with these qualities? No, i don't really think you would stand up and cheer politically if a bomb exploded in a "straight" bar. Would you? Most of us are trying to find a better way to live, than just being divisive. The "them" and "us" mentality is slowly disappearing, especially among the younger generation. There are so many other concerns in this ageing world. You don't wish me to smile and be nice and "toodly" like you? Well, can i at least say Shalom, at least to part of you? It means peace, girl... but maybe not love at the moment :P i know life can be hurtful, but do try to lighten up, ok?
24. 2009-11-10 22:25  
Oh, one more thing. The girl who was killed was "straight" - or didn't you notice that fact in your hurry to inspire more hate, while winking with honesty? Sorry, but on reflection, your smiling condolences to the victims as a mere afterthought, is probably the most distasteful thing i have witnessed here in forum. Toodles... if you've been abused before, i'm sorry.. but get some help, please? Ciao.

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