July 31, 2015 at 4:46 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
U.S. officials condemn Jerusalem Pride attack

Jerusalem Pride, gay news, Washington Blade

Marchers in a Jerusalem Pride march moments before an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man allegedly stabbed six people on July 30, 2015. (Photo courtesy of Tom Canning/Jerusalem Open House)

A State Department spokesperson on Friday declined to say whether the attack on a Jerusalem Pride march was an act of terrorism.

“I’m not going to make that call from this podium at this point,” said Mark Toner during his daily press briefing in response to a Washington Blade question about the attack. “We condemn it as a terrible crime against the LGBT community.”

Toner opened the briefing with a statement of condemnation against Thursday’s attack that left six people injured, including a 16-year-old teenager who remains in critical condition in a Jerusalem hospital.

“We condemn yesterday’s violent attack at the Jerusalem Pride parade,” said Toner. “Our thoughts are with the six reported victims of this attack, their families, friends as well as the entire Jerusalem LGBT community.”

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest also condemned the attack during his daily press briefing.

“This is a terrible act of violence and one the United States would strongly condemn,” he said in response to the Blade’s question about the incident.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the attack alongside Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler, National Council of Jewish Women CEO Nancy Kaufman, the Washington D.C. Jewish Community Center and others.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro on his Twitter page described the Jerusalem Pride attack and a fire allegedly set by what the New York Times described as “Jewish extremists” on Friday in the West Bank village of Duma that left a Palestinian toddler dead and left her parents and 4-year-old brother critically injured as “terrible acts of violence.”

Israeli police say Yishai Shlissel used a butcher knife to stab marchers in the back as they attempted to run away from him. The ultra-Orthodox Jewish man had just been released from prison after serving a 10-year sentence in connection with the stabbing of three people during a Jerusalem Pride march in 2005.

Tom Canning, director of development of the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, which organized the march, is among those who witnessed Shlissel allegedly stab participants in Thursday’s Pride march.

“We do not consider it an act of terrorism,” Canning told the Blade in response to Toner’s comments. “It is a hate crime.”

Media reports indicate that Shlissel lashed out on Friday during his initial court appearance.

“I have no interest in cooperating at all,” said Shlissel, according to Agence France-Presse. “I do not recognize any of the regime’s institutions.”

Canning told the Blade that a “mass rally” is scheduled take place in Jerusalem tomorrow night with the support of the city’s government. He said Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has confirmed that he will speak at the event.

Chris Johnson contributed to this report.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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