The massacre at an Orlando nightclub on Sunday which left at least 49 people dead evoked eerie reminders of a shooting at the Tel Aviv Gay and Lesbian Association in 2009.
“This brings me back—my heart is broken into pieces every time I hear LGBT people are murdered because of who they are,” Tomer Raviv, 24, told Ynet News. Raviv was injured in the attack at “Bar Noar” in 2009.
Aside from both apparently targeting the LBGT community, the two atrocities differ vastly in both outcome and motive. The Orlando attack has been ruled terrorism, the shooter a Muslim of Afghani descent who was found dead at the scene. He killed dozens of people and took hostages at the Pulse Nightclub on Sunday and claimed ties to ISIS.
In the Tel Aviv attack, a lone gunman entered the building and opened fire on youth attending an event. Two people were killed and 15 wounded and the shooter escaped. Police quickly ruled out terrorism. In 2014, all charges were dropped against the main suspect, Hagai Felician, after the prosecution’s case collapsed.
After the Orlando shooting Israel, well acquainted with terrorism on its own soil, showed why it is one of America’s closest allies. The Tel Aviv Municipality was lit up with rotating flags – Israeli, American and the rainbow flag, the international symbol of the LGBT movement. Vigils were held around the country and rainbow flags hung in solidarity. A similar expression of solidarity was shown in Israel following the Paris attacks, November 14, 2016.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed sympathy on Twitter:
Orlando is thousands of miles from Israel, but the tragedy there has deeply saddened me. We Israelis feel your pain as if it were our own.
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) June 12, 2016
Avi Alfasi, 59, an American-Israeli who lives in Florida told Ynet News he organized a party at the same club a week prior to the attack.
“It could be said that many Israelis were miraculously saved,” he said. “In a party which took place last Saturday there were at least 20 of them with me.”
Alfasi said many facilities in American are an easy target for terrorists due to lax security.
“You can get in through the side entrance, they don’t really check bags,” he said. “In Israel the level of security is on another level. In America it is a joke. You could say that the writing was really on the wall.”
Editor’s Note: Initial news reports noted 50 dead, but later the number was updated to 49 as it was discovered that the 50th body was that of the attacker.