Advertisement

As war in Gaza continues, hostage families lead this year's Jerusalem Pride Parade

By Ehren Wynder
People take part in the "Born To Be Free" Jerusalem Pride and Tolerance Parade amid the war with Hamas, calling for the release of all hostages held captive by Hamas in Gaza on Thursday. The solemn parade, led by the Hostages and Missing Families Forum and the Jerusalem Open House for LGBTQ Israeli Jews and Arabs, demands the release of the 121 hostages held for 237 days by Hamas. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI
People take part in the "Born To Be Free" Jerusalem Pride and Tolerance Parade amid the war with Hamas, calling for the release of all hostages held captive by Hamas in Gaza on Thursday. The solemn parade, led by the Hostages and Missing Families Forum and the Jerusalem Open House for LGBTQ Israeli Jews and Arabs, demands the release of the 121 hostages held for 237 days by Hamas. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

May 30 (UPI) -- Despite the ongoing war in Gaza, some 10,000 people marched in the Jerusalem Pride Parade on Thursday, with hostage families leading the demonstration.

The march, which has been held in Jerusalem since 2002, ran under the banner "Born To Be Free" and was dedicated to calling for the release of hostages still being held by Hamas, as well as equal rights for Israel's LGBTQ population.

Advertisement

One group marched in memory of Maj. Sagi Golan, who was killed in the Hamas attack on Oct. 7 in Kibbutz Be'eri.

Golan had been set to marry his fiancé, Omer Ohana, just 13 days after the attack.

"There are those who are threatened by all this, but I want to tell you -- I have no goal to win you over," Ohana said at the rally. "The fact that we will be equal, does not mean that something in your rights will be harmed. The days when we fought within ourselves must end. We live in a reality where there is enough war out there. Among us, we need to be together."

Ohana initially was not recognized as a "bereaved family member" until Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant amended the policy to formally include same-sex couples in laws pertaining to family of fallen IDF soldiers.

Advertisement

Ayala Metzger, the daughter-in-law of hostage Yoram Metzger, also spoke at the event, calling on Israeli officials to "stop this stupidity and bring everyone back home, as fast as possible."

"Go out on the streets, bring more people with you, everyone that wants to live in an equal state needs to understand that we are in a war for its [the country's] face, and that we need each and every one of you," she said.

Other speakers included Sheila Weinberg, the first transgender elected official in Israeli history, Nadav Rudaeff, son of hostage Lior Rudaeff, and opposition leader Yair Lapid.

This year's march was smaller than usual, partly due to the dour mood in the city as the Hamas war nears on eight full months of fighting.

"This is not a normal year, and out of the despair and pain, a key thing became clear -- the cure for pain, sadness, and loss -- is the community," said Nilly Maderer, CEO of the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance.

The was caused organizers to cancel parades in Tel Aviv and Haifa. The Beersheba parade will alternatively be held as a rally for "pride and hope."

Far-right counter protesters organized in Bloomfield Garden across from where the march started.

Advertisement

Lehava, a right-wing, anti-LGBTQ organization, published a video in an attempt to rally counter-protesters.

"We're all united in the war, this is not the time for an abomination parade in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is not Sodom, all are invited to protest against the attempt to destroy the city's dignity," the organization said.

Israelis march in Jerusalem pride parade

People take part in the Born To Be Free, Jerusalem Pride and Tolerance Parade in Jerusalem on May 30, 2024. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

Latest Headlines