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Man accused of attacking Jerusalem gay pride parade to remain in custody

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man accused of stabbing participants in a gay pride parade appeared in a Jerusalem court Friday amid calls for the resignation of senior police officials for failing to keep tabs on the suspect, who was convicted of a similar attack in 2005.

Yishai Schlissel, who was released from prison just three weeks ago, refused legal counsel, telling reporters he did not recognize the authority of a court that does not follow the law of the Torah and is part of the “mechanism of evil.”

Police officials provided the court with a psychiatric evaluation that found Schlissel fit to stand trial and a judge ordered that he remain in custody for 12 more days.

Schlissel made clear in a recent radio interview and a letter obtained by Israeli media that his views on homosexuality hadn’t changed, saying people should not be allowed to “desecrate and defile” the holy city of Jerusalem.

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Six people were injured in Thursday’s attack, including a teenage girl who remained in critical condition Friday. Israelis took to social media and radio talk shows to lash out at the police over their handling of Schlissel and demand that officials pay with their jobs.

“Undoubtedly, at first impression, there appears to have been a grave lapse here,” Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan acknowledged in an interview with Israel Radio.

A special team headed by a former deputy police commissioner was appointed to review the chain of events leading up to the attack, and the results will be made public, he said.

With emotions running high in the country, police on Friday detained a man from southern Israel after a lawmaker complained about an offensive Facebook post in which he reportedly lauded Schlissel for the attack and hoped for the deaths of the victims.

Friday also brought news of an arson attack by suspected Israeli extremists on a home in the West Bank that claimed the life of a Palestinian toddler and critically injured members of his family.

NEWSLETTER: Get the day’s top headlines from Times Editor Davan Maharaj >>

Both attacks were widely condemned, including by conservative religious and political leaders. Hundreds of people took part in a rally Friday called by Tag Meir, a Jewish group dedicated to combating racism and hate crimes, at which prayers were offered for the victims.

Gay rights groups were organizing two more rallies on Saturday night in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, both expected to draw large crowds.

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Sobelman is a special correspondent.

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