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Page last updated at 00:14 GMT, Monday, 3 August 2009 01:14 UK

Gay Israelis rally after shooting

The funeral of shooting victim Nir Katz in Modiin, Israel, 2 August
One of the victims, 26-year-old man Nir Katz, was buried in Modiin on Sunday

Hundreds of Israelis have joined a rally organised by the gay community after shootings at a gay youth centre.

Two people died and at least 11 were hurt when the gunman opened fire at the Tel Aviv Gay and Lesbian Association before fleeing.

The city's Mayor, Ron Huldai, said the motive was unclear and police declined to comment except to say a Palestinian link was not suspected.

But the protesters condemned the attack as Israel's worst hate crime.

"I fear that if the man who did this is not found, the consequences to the gay community might be far-reaching - they might live in fear," said 47-year-old lawyer Arnon Hirsch.

Protesters at Tel Aviv rally 2/8/09
Protesters said it was the country's worst hate crime

The attacker, wearing a mask, opened fire indiscriminately with a pistol inside the centre on Nachmani Street.

The two people he killed were a man aged 26 and a 17-year-old girl.

Survivors described how the attacker kept firing as visitors to the centre dived for cover.

"I took cover with someone under a table, and he kept firing," said one injured teenager, Or Gil.

"When I got up it was horrifying, I just saw blood."

Gay rights activist Mike Hamel criticised religiously-driven hatred of homosexuals.

"Beyond the pain, the frustration and the anger, we are facing a situation in which the incitement to hate creates an environment that allows this to happen," he said.

One worker at the centre said some parents of the teenagers did not know their children were gay until they received phone calls telling them their children had been injured.

Support pledged

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to bring the killer to justice.

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni, who attended the rally, said the attack should strengthen young people who wanted to come out of the closet.

People from the gay community are allowed to serve openly in the military, and couples are given a measure of legal recognition.



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SEE ALSO
Police hunt killer of Israel gays
02 Aug 09 |  Middle East
Rally in Tel Aviv after gay attack
02 Aug 09 |  Middle East
Gunman attacks Israeli gay centre
01 Aug 09 |  Middle East

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