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Fear of Arab threats cools gays, rabbis

JERUSALEM, Nov. 9 (UPI) -- Arab threats to avenge an Israeli attack in the Gaza Strip led an Israeli gay group to cancel a controversial parade in Jerusalem and avoid counter-protests.

In recent weeks tension has been rising in Jerusalem over the gay community's plan to parade there Friday.

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The High Court of Justice recognized the gay people's right to demonstrate and the attorney general instructed police to allow a demonstration.

Orthodox Jews consider homosexuality an abomination and demanded the parade be banned. Ultra-orthodox youngsters have been rioting in recent days and clashing with police. Last year an ultra-orthodox man stabbed three gay marchers.

Police planned to deploy some 12,000 officers during Friday's march.

Meanwhile, Israeli shelling of Beit Hanoun in Gaza Wednesday -- said to be an attempt to prevent rockets from being fired from there -- killed 19 people and aroused Palestinian fury. Intelligence alerts talk of planned terror attacks in Israel and police decided to postpone the march.

Inspector General Moshe Karadi said they needed the officers throughout the country to prevent terror attacks and riots during Friday's prayers at al-Aqsa Mosque, and to fulfill their regular duties.

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The gay Open House in Jerusalem backed down and expressed readiness to cancel the parade altogether and only hold a rally in the secluded Hebrew University's stadium in Jerusalem. Police then approached the rabbis who cancelled their protests.

The rabbis' decision does not mean that ultra-orthodox zealots would stay home so 3,000 policemen will be on hand to protect the rally.

In a TV debate Thursday, Knesset (Parliament) Member Zevulun Orlev of the National Religious Party said he and several colleagues received threatening letters that gay men would rape 10 orthodox girls for every one of their people who would be hurt Friday.

Ayelet Shnur of the Open House's Board of Directors suggested he need not worry. "Homosexual men are attracted to men. They don't rape women," she said.

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