Martyr of Love by Rita B, Israel

It was July 30th, 2015. My memories of that day and the event itself are still kind of blurry. 



I remember, I cleaned my messy room and yearned to go to the Big City, there was a big event over there which I longed to attend! My mother wanted me to finish my tasks, she didn’t let me go. I remember crying in the middle of my room, I was so lonely and bored in my little town! I wished to see new faces and experience a different atmosphere. 

I finished my tasks and asked to go again. Reluctantly my mother agreed. I did not have a job at the age of 14, I asked for some money for the ride. When I told her where I was going, she got worried. Later I grew to understand why. It was Pride Parade in Jerusalem. At the beginning of the summer, I had gone to Tel Aviv Pride parade. The pride parade is a demonstration of pride in who you are, it is mostly for the LGBTQ community but not only. It is a demonstration of happiness, people are joyful and dancing by the sea.

My mom said, “Be aware, It’s dangerous there”.

10 years prior, back in 2005, a man called Yishai Schlissel stabbed people who participated in the Parade in Jerusalem. I responded to my mother; “I am sure they learned something since then, They secure the thing better and I guess he is in prison”. How Naive I was! He was released a month prior to the parade. I arrived at the starting point and saw so many different people: women, men, and others, secular, as well as religious. The old-style stone buildings seemed golden in the sunset! The grey grass was evidence of the crowds that walked on it, yet weirdly it had a fresh smell. I joined a group and we started to walk. The parade was a big demonstration: we screamed slogans about acceptance and equality and waved in flags, balloons, and posters. I was so happy! The cool wind of Jerusalem surrounded me, the bright sun and the motivated people made me smile. Everything seemed perfect at this moment. Suddenly we saw ambulances, many ambulances.

‘’Something bad happened’’ one of the adults in the group said. He opened his smartphone and read that people were stabbed. I froze, I could not feel anything, or say anything, my chest hurt, I felt as if something was stuck in my throat. Suddenly I started to see terrified, crying people, from our group and the other groups that rushed ahead. I hugged some people, what can a 14-year-old girl tell a sobbing adult? I felt shame, they were so emotional, and I was silent… We continued till the end of the route, and stood in a big park called “Gan Hapaamon”.

The TV cameras and the reporters were there too, telling the dry facts: a “16-year-old girl was brutally injured.”

I only remember the shock and the fights. Many different parties were participating, from blue-shirted Likud to redshirted “Socialist resistance.” When a person from Likud (The ruling party) started to speak, people interrupted her and called her names. The Garden was filled with chaos. I guess I was screaming at her too, I don’t really remember. The name of the girl was Shira Banki. She came to show her love and acceptance to all people, no matter who they are! She was not an LGBTQ person, she was just a normal 16-year old girl, and forever she will be a 16-year-old martyr for me, a martyr of love. The different parties screamed and argued while she was dying in the hospital. After her death, people gathered in central streets and squares lighting candles, in my town too. The most exciting event was in Jerusalem. During the Sunset, surrounded by the old stones, all the sectors united, candles were lit, slogans were written on posters. I will always remember Shira Banki as a martyr of love.

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