Sunday, October 22, 2017

(TPS) More than 10,000 revelers thronged the streets of downtown Jerusalem for the city’s annual pride parade on Thursday, August 3.

Participants described the event as a “carnival” with a uniquely “Jerusalem atmosphere,” and called the march a protest for freedom.

“The energy is great, it feels more like a protest for freedom and expression, very Jerusalem-like,” said Shlomzion Sasha Leshem, who broadcast the march on Facebook.

The turnout far exceeded advance predictions by both police and event organizers, who expected between 4,000-10,000 marchers. Upper estimates as of this writing indicate as many as 20,000 participants.

More than 1,000 police officers were deployed to secure the event, which ran from Liberty Bell Park, up Keren Hayesod Street to Hillel Street, and ended with a festival in Independence Park.

Police detained at least a dozen people during the march, including one who was found to be carrying a knife. Ultra-Orthodox Jews have attacked marchers in Jerusalem in the past, most recently in 2015, when Yishai Schlissel stabbed and murdered 16-year-old Shira Banki.

Several hundred meters from the main event, about 25 right-wing activists staged a counter-protest, founded by the far-right group Lehava. “There is no place in Jerusalem for [an] ‘abomination’ march,” said Lehava founder Bentzi Gopstein.

“We don’t want people who bring their Diaspora-type abominations to the holy city, Jerusalem,” added right-wing activist Baruch Marzel. “We don’t want them to destroy the Israeli family, we don’t want people with problems who have turned [their problems] into norms to march here. If they are sick, they should go to the doctor.”