Lifestyle & Belief

Tel Aviv gay youth center shooting: Four suspects held; police say not a hate crime


Israelis sit around lit candles during a mass rally of solidarity with the victims of an attack on a gay center, in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on August 8, 2009.


Jack Guez

Israeli police arrested four suspects this week in connection with a shooting at a Tel Aviv gay youth center in 2009.

The shootings killed two people and sparked fears in the city's gay community that they were targeted in a hate crime.

The police announced that they are no longer treating the murders as a hate crime.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Friday that the attacks were personal in nature.

Haaretz reported that the suspects were thought to be involved in organized crime.

The newspaper said the killer may have been hired to murder someone at the Bar Noah youth club.

Three of the male suspects appeared in court on Friday.

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Another suspect, who is said to be a gay rights activist, was also arrested for allegedly obstructing the police investigation into the murders.

There are few other details as the court is under gag order.

The arrests came on the eve of the gay pride parade in Tel Aviv, where politicians spoke out about the murder.

Despite the police's announcement, Culture Minister Limor Livnat said she still believes that the killing of young people was a hate crime.

According to Haaretz, she said that "even if details are not yet fully known, it is obvious that the murder of innocent youth is a hate crime."

Her words were in reference to the Israeli health ministry reconsidering a bill to compensate victims of the attack.