Hundreds gathered in Jerusalem for a memorial to Shira Banki, the teen who died from injuries suffered in a knife attack at the city’s gay pride parade.
Friends and supporters of Banki and the LGBTQ community held the tribute on Sunday night in Zion Square. Banki, 16, a high school student from Jerusalem, had died hours earlier at Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Kerem, where she had been fighting for her life after being stabbed in the chest and stomach on Thursday. She was one of six stabbing victims.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett, the head of the right-wing Jewish Home party, told the vigil participants that Banki was murdered due to “extremism, because we don’t know how to accept the other.”
“Students in Israel need first of all to know: Don’t be afraid to be who you are and what you are,” he said.
Banki was marching to support her gay friends, her family said in a statement. The family agreed to donate her organs, Hadassah hospital announced.
“Our magical Shira was murdered because she was a happy 16-year-old – full of life and love – who came to express her support for her friends’ rights to live as they choose,” the family statement said. “For no good reason and because of evil, stupidity and negligence, the life of our beautiful flower was cut short. Bad things happen to good people, and a very bad thing happened to our amazing girl.”
The statement also expressed “hope for less hatred and more tolerance.”
Israeli politicians from across the spectrum expressed sorrow about the teen’s death.
Yishai Schlissel, a haredi Orthodox man from Modiin Ilit in the West Bank, remains in police custody after being deemed psychologically fit to stand trial on Friday, a day after he allegedly stabbed the marchers. Schlissel had been released from prison three weeks earlier after serving 10 years for a similar attack at Jerusalem’s 2005 gay pride parade.
Meanwhile, gay Jewish community builders from across the world are set to convene in Austria for the inauguration of an international think tank on their communities’ needs.
The 70 participants coming to Salzburg next week for the think tank, which is called Eighteen:22, also will commemorate Shira.