The men were arrested the day before their court appearance, also accused of several criminal offences apparently unrelated to the shooting. An unnamed prominent member of Tel Aviv’s gay community was arrested the same night as the three suspects.
Police claim the man may have something to do with the killers’ motivations, but made it clear he was not involved with planning or carrying out the shooting.
Police have also said the shooting appears to have been motivated by revenge rather than prejudice, ruling out a hate crime specifically targeting the gay community.
Tens of thousands attended the following day’s gay pride parade, where many attacked the police’s assessment of the shooter’s motivation. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni addressed the crowd at the parade, joining a number of politicians in attendance in criticising the police’s findings.
“Even if the killer meant to hurt one person, he loathes the lives of those who were at Bar Noar,” she said to the crowd, referring to the community centre where the shooting occurred.
Livni’s sentiment was echoed by Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat, a member of the rightwing Likud party led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Even if details are not yet fully known, it is obvious that the murder of innocent youth is a hate crime,” said Livnat, the first member of her party to address the parade.
Despite court restrictions on reporting the identity of the fourth man arrested in relation to the 2009 shooting, Israeli media have reported that the man’s identity is well known within Tel Aviv’s gay community, and was frequently discussed by those attending the pride parade.
Nir Katz, 26 and Liz Trubeshi, 16, were killed in February 2009 when a masked shooter opened fire on a crowd near the entrance to the community centre, injuring 15 others.
The mass shooting provoked nationwide protests and condemnation from the Prime Minister, sparking one of the longest police investigations in Israeli history.