Pride parade stabber found fit to stand trial

Yishai Shlissel, the ultra-Orthodox man arrested for attacking marchers at Jerusalem’s Pride Parade for the second time, has been declared mentally fit to stand trial — again.

Lehava members protest in front of Jerusalem gay pride parade, holding signs with slogans such as “Jerusalem is not Sodom.” July 30, 2015. (Keren Manor/Activestills)
Lehava members protest in front of Jerusalem gay pride parade, holding signs with slogans such as “Jerusalem is not Sodom.” July 30, 2015. (Keren Manor/Activestills)

Yishai Shlissel, the ultra-Orthodox man accused of murdering a teenage girl and injuring five other people in a stabbing attack at the Jerusalem pride parade last month, was declared mentally fit to stand trial on Wednesday.

Jerusalem police were expected to charge Shlissel with murder and several counts of attempted murder. Shlissel has refused legal representation, saying that he does not recognize the court because it does not follow the rules of Torah.

This is the second psychiatric evaluation Shlissel has undergone since he was arrested at the scene of the stabbing on July 30th. Though an assessment carried out the day after the attack found Shlissel to be psychologically fit to stand trial, the Jerusalem district psychiatrist ordered his mental state to be reassessed after extended observation in a psychiatric institution.

Shlissel, a resident of the ultra-Orthodox settlement of Modi’in Illit, near Jerusalem, carried out an almost identical attack at the 2005 Jerusalem pride parade, injuring three. He was sentenced to 10 years in jail for attempted murder, and was released just three weeks prior to the second assault.

The announcement comes amid a period of nationwide “soul-searching” following a deadly July, in which suspected religious fanatics carried out two fatal attacks on innocent civilians — the first at the Jerusalem gay pride parade and the second, the day after, in the Palestinian village of Duma, where an arson attack on a family home killed an infant and his father.

In the wake of the deadly stabbing at the pride parade in Jerusalem, many within right-wing and religious media outlets in Israel raised questions regarding Shlissel’s mental state. This is a frequently heard speculation among those communities following hate crimes or terrorist attacks committed by Jews, and many have attempted to marginalize the perpetrators and therefore avoid questions of responsibility for the crimes.

Blood is seen on the pavement following a mass stabbing attack against the Jerusalem LGBTQ Pride Parade in Jerusalem, July 30, 2015. (Keren Manor/Activestills.org)
Blood is seen on the pavement following a mass stabbing attack against the Jerusalem LGBTQ Pride Parade in Jerusalem, July 30, 2015. (Keren Manor/Activestills.org)

In the days leading up to the Jerusalem gay pride parade, the far right-wing Lehava organization released a statement which threatened that they would not allow the event “to pass quietly. ” The organization’s leader, Benzi Gopstein, described the event as an “abomination.”

Gopstein, along with Honenu lawyer Itamar Ben Gvir, was present at the courthouse at which Shlissel appeared the morning after the attack.

Ben Gvir told reporters that he considers the participants in the parade “agitators and provocateurs,” before stating that he is against such attacks.

Following Shlissel’s arrest, police launched an internal investigation to determine why no one had been monitoring him on the day of the parade, especially as he had reportedly distributed leaflets signaling his intention to attack the event.

The investigation resulted in finger pointing, with the police intelligence unit claiming that it had not been made aware of Shlissel’s release from jail.

However, Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan rejected recommendations to punish several senior police officers.

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