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Israeli police arrest 17 at annual Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade

By Sommer Brokaw
An Israeli lesbian couple stand under a makeshift chuppah. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

June 6 (UPI) -- Thousands of advocates showed up Thursday to Jerusalem's Gay Pride Parade, an event that might have been marred by a knife attack if it wasn't for attentive security officers.

Authorities said officers found a knife hidden in one man's shoe, and arrested him. A total of 17 people were arrested for disrupting the parade. Jerusalem police chief Doron Yadid told reporters one was carrying pepper spray.

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An estimated 10,000 people and 2,500 police officers were at Thursday's event, including border agents and undercover officers. Authorities said they watched a smaller crowd of about 300 who joined a counterprotest.

Israel's first openly gay minister, interim justice chief Amir Ohana, became a target of some heckling at the event. Video footage showed a crowd booing and chanting "embarrassment." Ohana is serving in the transitional government until new Knesset elections Sept. 17.

The night before the parade, police arrested Moshiko Ben Zikri at a countering rally. Officials said Zikri has disrupted the parade in previous years by posing as a supporter and sneaking onto the podium where he would rant against the gay community. The first event was held in 2002.

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Police spokesman Micky Rosenfield told The Jerusalem Post security has increased since an ultra-Orthodox protester stabbed multiple people at the event in 2015. Sixteen-year-old Shira Banki died and five others were injured.

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