Tributes have been paid to the 50 victims of the devastating shooting massacre that took place at a gay club in Orlando on Saturday night.
Israel’s president and prime minister sent their condolences to America after a gunman wielding an assault-rifle and a handgun opened fire inside the gay nightclub in Florida.
The Tel Aviv Municipality building was illuminated in the rainbow flag of the LGBT community, the United States’ flag and the Israeli flag, “in solidarity with the city of Orlando” according to the Municipality. In Jerusalem’s Zion Square a crowd gathered holding signs and flags in support of the victims.
— Mayor of Tel Aviv (@MayorOfTelAviv) June 12, 2016
Meanwhile, it emerged that in the moments before Omar Mateen, a New York-born born son of an Afghan immigrant, opened fire at the Pulse nightclub, he reportedly telephoned police declaring allegiance to the Islamic State.
Following the deadly shooting attack, which is the worst in America’s history in terms of numbers killed, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid tribute to the victims of the attack, saying: “On behalf of Israelis and the government of Israel, I wish to extend our sincerest condolences to the American people in the wake of the heinous attack on the LGBT community in Orlando last night.”
He added: “Israel stands shoulder to shoulder alongside the US in this tragic moment of loss.”
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
President Reuven Rivlin added his condolences, saying: “Once again we feel the pain of terrible loss as we see the blood spilled of young and innocent people. There is no comfort for those who have had their loved ones torn away from them.”
He further added “this attack against the LGBT community in Orlando, is as cowardly as it is abhorrent” and that Israel would stand with America “in the moral and just fight against all forms of violence and hatred”. Opposition leader and Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog said via social media that Israel stands in solidarity with “victims of darkness and hatred”.
— Reuven Rivlin (@PresidentRuvi) June 12, 2016
President of the World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder expressed “the Jewish people’s solidarity with the victims and with the LGBT community” in a statement after the attack.
He said: “No minority should live under a state of fear simply because of who they are, and we must work together to root out hate in all its forms. My prayers are with the families and friends of those who were lost. May their memories be a blessing.”
According to the shooter’s ex-wife, Sitora Yusufiy, Mateen had a history of steroid abuse and was “mentally unstable” and physically abusive toward her.
She described a religious man who showed no signs of radicalism, adding of the nightclub massacre: “There was no sign of any of this at all.”