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Liri Avrahami, manager of the gay youth forum at the Hebrew Web portal Tapuz, said the reaction of gay youth was essentially one of anxiety, and many posters to the forum expressed fear for their personal safety. "I think yesterday's event is simply terrifying!" wrote one user. Others said they were frightened, scared and in shock.
"They're afraid to come to Tel Aviv, and specifically, to attend gay youth events," Avrahami told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. "They say they don't intend to return to the community centers or even to just hang out in the mall in Tel Aviv. They're plain scared."
Usually, gay youth from all over the country flock to such centers in Tel Aviv, but many now feel those safe havens have been compromised, said Avrahami. The fact that the gunman is still at large only exacerbates the fear of being targeted.
Some gay youth are nervous not only about being attacked, but also about being forced out of the closet prematurely. "In essence, they're afraid they'll get shot and their parents will find out and judge them," Avrahami said.
But at the same time many young gay youth are afraid of returning, many others refuse to be frightened and are taking to the streets . Israeli gay activist Oded Katzman tells the Post: "I am standing at a street corner near to where the shooting happened, and
there are a thousand people here. They are waving gay pride flags, wearing IDF uniforms, the shirt of the scouts and they are determined not to be afraid."
At this hour, hundreds of police officers are going door-to-door and combing the streets of Israel's largest city in a "massive" manhunt for the gunman who killed a 26-year-old man and 17-year-old girl in a shooting rampage, described as the "worst attack ever against the gay community in Israel."
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld describes the carnage: "A masked man entered the center for gay teens in downtown Tel Aviv late Saturday night, pulled out a pistol and opened fire. The shooter then concealed his weapon and fled the scene on foot into the busy streets outside the center."
Israel's gays enjoy Western-style freedoms and Tel Aviv has often been compared to New York City or San Francisco. Gays serve in the Army and Tel Aviv holds an annual gay pride march. But Orthodox Jews often protest violently against LGBTs and one is currently serving 12 years for knifing three people at a 2005 Jerusalem gay parade.
AFTER THE JUMP, watch a report on the shooting rampage and video of the weekend protest rallies.