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Jerusalem gay pride attacker jailed for life

An Israeli court has sentenced an ultra-Orthodox Jew to life in prison for killing a teenager at the Jerusalem gay pride parade in 2015. During the trial, the man said he had been doing God's will.

The judges at the Jerusalem court sentenced the assailant, Yishai Schlissel, to life in prison for stabbing a 16-year old girl to death at the parade. He was also sentenced to an additional 31 years for six counts of attempted murder during his 2015 stabbing rampage at the Jerusalem Pride, officials said on Sunday.

In addition, Schlissel was ordered to pay reparations of approximately half a million US dollars (euros) to his victims and their families.

The attacker acted out of "blind fanaticism," according to the court.

The ultra-Orthodox Jew already committed a similar attack in 2005, when he wounded three people at the Jerusalem pride event. He was subsequently sentenced to 12 years in prison and released after 10 for good behavior.

Only weeks after his release in 2015, Schlissel once again stormed the parade with a knife, this time killing one person and wounding six more. He previously posted a letter online about the "abomination" of a gay pride parade in the Holy City and the need to stop it.

'Unbearable ease'

In their verdict, the Jerusalem judges criticized the police for not monitoring the attacker.

"The evidence clearly shows that Israeli police were aware of the dangers the defendant, released (from prison) a short while before the march, posed," the court said in their April judgment.

"The unbearable ease with which the defendant managed to infiltrate the marchers and carry out his nefarious deed before being apprehended is incomprehensible."

Six senior police officials were forced to leave their posts after the incident.

Clashing with prejudice

The 40-year old defendant told the court he was doing God's will.

"With all the sorrow, it must be known that whoever marches in the Jerusalem Gay Pride march is declaring war on God. And whoever is warring against God can't really complain," Schlissel told reporters in August.

Jerusalem religious groups, including Jews, Muslims, and Christians, are generally opposed to public displays of homosexuality. Even so, physical attacks are rare.

Gay pride parades in the ancient city are modest compared to those in nearby Tel Aviv, where hundreds of thousands marched this year.

dj/tj (dpa, AFP, AP, Reuters)