Event organizer

2 arrested for throwing a ball at Netivot Pride Parade organizer’s mother

Two men were arrested on Thursday on suspicion of sending death threats to the mother of one of the organizers of a Pride Parade in the southern town of Netivot.

The march was called off two weeks ago after the woman faced protests outside her home and a pistol bullet was left on the door of her workplace.

The two suspects, aged 32 and 35 and both residents of Netivot, deny the charges. The Beersheba Magistrate’s Court ordered their detention for five days.

They are believed to have delivered the ball and vandalized the woman’s car during a protest at her home in Ma’agalim, a community south of Netivot.

The woman told Channel 12 she felt “great relief and joy that the police took the threats seriously”.

She said she “hadn’t slept in two weeks and feared for my life”.

Last month, the Aguda umbrella organization for LGBTQ groups in Israel said in a statement that it was canceling the planned Netivot march “out of responsibility for the safety and well-being of community members.”

Lawmakers condemned the circumstances of the cancellation and urged that the parade, scheduled for early June, go ahead.

The arrests in the case came as police were on high alert in the capital ahead of the Jerusalem Pride parade on Thursday, after threats were made against a march organizer and lawmakers planning to attend it. The threats referenced the murder of a teenager at the 2015 event.

Pride events in Jerusalem are always tense affairs, with right-wing and religious counter-protests a constant, as well as a history of deadly violence.

This was accentuated on Wednesday after a message was sent to Emuna Klein Barnoy, Community Director of the Jerusalem Open Day, warning: “We will not allow the Pride Parade to take place in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the holy city. The destiny of Shira Banki awaits you.

The message was also sent to MPs Gilad Kariv (Labour), Naama Lazimi (Labour) and Eitan Ginzburg (Blue and White). Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy also plans to join the march.

Late Wednesday, police said they arrested a man in his 20s suspected of sending the threats. The man, a resident of Jerusalem, has not been identified. He was to be arraigned in a city court on Thursday to have his pretrial detention extended.

The threatening messages were sent to Facebook and Twitter from an account called “The Brothers of Yishai Schlissel”, according to the network.

Schlissel, an ultra-Orthodox Jew, stabbed 16-year-old Shira Banki to death during the 2015 parade, just three weeks after his release from prison where he served an eight-year sentence for a knife attack during the same walk 10 years earlier.

Pride marches are held every year in several locations across the country. Tel Aviv is the biggest pride, with tens of thousands of people usually attending. It is to take place this year on June 10.

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