June 26, 2016 at 10:39 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Jerusalem Pride attacker sentenced to life in prison

Jerusalem, gay news, Washington Blade

A Jerusalem court on June 26, 2016, sentenced an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man to life in prison plus 31 years for last year’s attack on a Pride march. (Photo by Wayne McLean; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

An Israeli court on Sunday sentenced an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man to life in prison plus 31 years in connection with a 2015 attack on a Jerusalem Pride march.

The Jerusalem District Court in April found Yishai Schlissel guilty of murder and six counts of attempted murder.

Prosecutors say that Schlissel stabbed Shira Banki, a 16-year-old teenager, to death and injured six others who were taking part in the march on July 30, 2015, that Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, a local LGBT advocacy group, organized. The attack took place less than a month after Schlissel completed a 10-year prison sentence in connection with the stabbing of three people during a Jerusalem Pride march in 2005.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the White House are among those who condemned last year’s attack. The Jerusalem District Court in April blasted Israeli police officials for not doing enough to stop Schlissel.

“Over the past year, we followed after Yishai Schlissel’s, the villainous killer’s trial closely,” said Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance CEO Sarah Kala-Meir in a statement her organization released after the court sentenced Schlissel. “The verdict given today is yet another milestone in our fight against hatred, violence and darkness towards LGTBQ community.”

“Unfortunately, Schlissel’s term of imprisonment cannot heal our open bleeding wounds, nor bring back to life Shira Banki,” she added. “Having said that, we derive comfort from court’s acknowledgment in the need to condemn people like Schlissel from our society, a major step towards a better world.”

Jerusalem authorities earlier this year announced they plan to rename a square in honor of Banki. Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance said after the court sentenced Schlissel that this year’s Pride march — which is scheduled to take place on July 21 — is dedicated to the teenager and those who were injured during last year’s attack.

The court sentenced Schlissel two weeks after a gunman killed 49 people and injured more than 50 others when he opened fire inside a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla.

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

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