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Four Men Arrested for Attempted Murder of Gay Teen in Israel

tel aviv

The attack follows a recent spike in homophobic incidents.

Three men who attacked their gay brother are now in custody in Tel Aviv, following a stabbing that's being blamed on everything from the recent increase in anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes to homophobic Israeli politicians.

The 16-year-old victim was stabbed outside the Beit Dror gay youth hostel in July, and he told police that he had been attacked by his older brother for being gay. Two brothers, aged 23 and 27, turned themselves in to police later that week, with two other men arrested for aiding in a conspiracy to murder the victim.

The victim needed a portion of his lung and his gallbladder removed but survived the attack.

Prosecutors claim the family attempted to pressure the victim to say that he didn't know his attackers. Security cameras, fingerprints, and cell phone data corroborate the account that his brothers tried to murder him. The names of the brothers have been sealed to protect the victim's identity.

Authorities say the older brothers had previously threatened to kill their sibling if he did not end a relationship with another boy. They had also beaten him to the point of unconsciousness and kidnapped him on an occasion when he attempted to flee to authorities.

He was able to escape his family in June and was living in a shelter for LGBTQ+ youth when his brothers tracked him down.

"This is a hate crime against the [LGBTQ+] community," Beit Dror manager Yael Sinai told the newspaper Yedioth Ahronot. "The attack was directed at this young man because of his gender identity and sexual orientation. We are hurting and sorry but we'll continue to be an open house for all youth."

A 200-person rally, the first large public LGBTQ+ event in Haifa, followed the violence last month.

According to the civil rights group Aguda, homophobic incidents rose by 54 percent in 2018. Numerous politicians have spoken out about the increase in anti-LGBTQ+ hate, in addition to condemning this horrific attack.

"This shocking incident exposed that gender violence within the family, sometimes murderous, which is generally directed at women, is also directed at [LGBTQ+] youth who wish to live in liberty," tweeted Aida Touma-Sliman, a member of Israel's parliament, the Knesset, and the left-leaning Hadash party.

Ayman Odeh, leader of the Hadash party leader, tweeted that "we can't accept any type of violence in our society, especially not hate crimes."

Itzik Shmuli, a member of the Knesset, pointed out that the Israeli Education Minister Rabbi Rafi Peretz recently endorsed "ex-gay" treatment, which Shmuli said contributes to the marginalization of LGBTQ+ youth. "An Education Minister who talks about teenagers who need to convert their identity promotes violence and incitement," he told the news agency Kan 11.

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Matt Baume