Witnesses say the killer, clad in black, opened fire in a basement club in Tel Aviv, which was hosting a weekly event for teenage gays. The attacker killed a 26-year-old man and a 16-year-old girl, wounding 13 others in the process. Police say the gunman is still at large having fled the scene of the carnage and made it clear this was not an attack against the Jewish state.
Gay rights activist Avi Sofer said: ” The biggest shock is to think that it happened in Tel Aviv, which is the most tolerant city in the country. It’s very young, very free people feel safe, especially where it happened.”
The motive for the killing remains unclear and the authorities have placed a court order banning publication of the investigation.
Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom vowed to bring the killer to justice: “It’s a shock for every one of us, I think what happened yesterday was a massacre that we could not tolerate or accept. I would like to believe that the police will take all the measures that are needed in order to find who is the murderer, who is the terrorist, and to bring them to trial”
If it proves to be a hate crime it will mark the most violent attack against gays in Israel’s history.
Cosmopolitan Tel Aviv has a vibrant gay scene but in other parts of the country homosexuality is less welcome.
Annual gay pride marches in Jerusalem often come under attack from ultra-Orthodox jews, who view same sex relations as an “abomination against God.”