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Gunman kills 2 at Tel Aviv club for gay youths
August 1, 2009 / 9:02 PM / 8 years ago

Gunman kills 2 at Tel Aviv club for gay youths

TEL AVIV (Reuters) - A gunman sprayed automatic fire at an Israeli club for gay teenagers on Saturday, killing two people and wounding at least eight, police and witnesses said.

<p>An Israeli paramedic rushes a wounded man to an ambulance after a shooting incident in a basement club in central Tel Aviv August 1, 2009. REUTERS/Amir Meiri</p>

The shooting spree in central Tel Aviv set off a citywide security clampdown, reviving memories of Palestinian attacks that have ebbed in recent years. But a police spokesman said that the incident was “criminal, rather than nationalistic.”

Citing witnesses, Israeli television said a black-clad, masked gunman stormed into the Tel Aviv Gay and Lesbian Association building and opened fire in a basement room where teenage homosexuals were holding a weekly support group.

Most of the casualties were minors, the police spokesman said, adding that the assailant was believed to have used an automatic weapon such as an M-16 rifle.

“This is an unprecedented event for Israel and for the community,” association director May Pamel told Channel 10 TV.

<p>Israeli paramedics treat victims after a shooting incident in a basement club in central Tel Aviv August 1, 2009. REUTERS/Amir Meiri</p>

“We have joined the roster of ‘civilized’ countries where hatred is the standard.”

Coastal, cosmopolitan Tel Aviv has a bustling gay scene, but open homosexuality is less welcome in conservative areas of the Jewish state. Annual gay pride parades in Jerusalem meet with often violent protests from ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Tel Aviv police chief Shachar Ayalon stopped short of branding the shooting a hate crime remarks to reporters.

But one protester at the scene held up a placard blaming a powerful religious Jewish political party whose members have regularly inveighed against gays.

Israeli media said police had warned other gay clubs in Tel Aviv to close for fear of a follow-up attack.

Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Michael Roddy

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