Israel: Tel Aviv’s Gay Pride Parade

    The Tel Aviv Municipality said the parade is “expected to be the largest parade of its kind held worldwide since the outbreak of COVID-19.” This year’s event is the 21st in the city’s history, after last year’s parade was canceled due to the pandemic. Friday’s festivities will include six party trucks, dancers, DJs and a party following the parade at Charles Clore Park.

    Hours before the parade was slated to begin, Israel reimposed its indoor mask mandate amid a slight spike in new COVID cases. The Health Ministry announcement also recommended masks be worn at crowded outdoor events, specifically mentioning the pride parade and other pride activities.

    “Pride events in Tel Aviv-Yafo are a long-standing tradition, centered on a message of equality, acceptance and human and civil rights,” said Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai. “Tel Aviv-Yafo represents a warm home for all communities residing here, and is proud to be a groundbreaking city in its approach to the LGBTQ community and a source of international inspiration. This year, more than ever, we will celebrate together, march together, and fight together for equality.”

    Ahead of the parade, Israel Police arrested a man from Tel Aviv who they say was planning to harm participants at the event. The man was caught with a taser, nunchucks and other items. Later, police reportedly arrested another six people who were plotting to attack marchers, including two who were operating drones.

    Police said they were deploying hundreds of additional officers to secure the parade route and direct traffic and road closures, “in order to secure the safety of participants and public order.” More than a dozen streets in Tel Aviv will be shut most of Friday in order to enable the parade route. Police are said to be using cameras, drones and a helicopter to maintain safety from the air.

    People participate in the annual Gay Pride Parade in Tel Aviv on June 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

    The Jerusalem Pride Parade was held in early June under heavy security. In 2015, 16-year-old Shira Banki was stabbed to death by an ultra-Orthodox extremist during the parade in Jerusalem.

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