Despite and protests throughout the spring spearheaded by some ultra-Orthodox Jews, and denunciations by Christian and Muslim leaders, the Jerusalem Pride Parade transpired without violence on June 21. Some 2,500 marchers in the event, organized by the LGBT rights group Jerusalem Open House, were protected by 7,000 police officers and 200 paramedics downtown. A planned post-parade rally was canceled, reportedly because of a firefighters’ strike.
Earlier in the week, on June 17, nearly 10,000 members of the ultra-Orthodox Haredi sect had rallied to protest the upcoming parade and threaten violence. Twelve protesters were arrested, and 13 police officers were injured by a barrage of rocks.
The Jerusalem Pride Parade has been embroiled in controversy since its inception in 2002 because of the divide between the city’s deeply religious and secular communities. Last year’s festivities, held on Nov 10, took the form of a rally in a heavily guarded stadium at Hebrew University when security concerns prohibited a parade. Initially, the event was scheduled to be held in conjunction with WorldPride in early August, but it was delayed due to hostilities between Israel and Lebanon.