Iconic Jerusalem square to be memorial for Gay Pride stabbing victim
Jerusalem’s most iconic city center square is to be renamed Tolerance Square in memory of the 16-year-old Israeli girl stabbed to death at the city’s Gay Pride parade last summer.
The centrally located Zion Square, which has been the location for some of the city’s most fiery protests, is slated for a complete overhaul, according to a statement issued by Jerusalem’s municipality.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said that the square will be used as a place of tolerance and meeting, a place that will exemplify the values and beliefs of Shira Banki, the teenager who was tragically killed.
Miki Banki, Shira’s mother, will sit on a panel of judges that will eventually decide which architectural plan will be used to redesign the public space, Barkat said.
Built during the era of the British Mandate, Zion Square is located at the Jaffa Road and Ben Yehuda intersection and was a place where different groups gathered after the attack in the summer of 2015 to grieve and debate pressing issues.
In recent years the square has fallen from grace and has become a popular meeting place for homeless people and disenchanted youths.
Shira Banki was murdered by ultra-Orthodox Yishai Schlissel in the July stabbing attack at the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade.
Banki’s death shocked the country and led to widespread condemnation from across the political spectrum.
A Jerusalem court said that Schlissel was fit to stand trial after he underwent a psychiatric evaluation in order to determine the sate of his mental health.
Schlissel said after that attack that he did not recognize the court’s authority, because it did not follow Biblical laws, and refused to be represented by an attorney.
He had been released from prison just weeks before the attack after being jailed for ten years for stabbing three people at a similar event in Jerusalem in 2005.
Police came under scrutiny for letting Schlissel get so close to the parade’s marchers despite early warnings he was planning an attack.
Media reported that Shlissel had also posted before the parade a letter on the Internet speaking of the “abomination” of a Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem.