People march with a giant rainbow banner during the annual Jerusalem Pride Parade in the city centre (Pictures: EPA)

Thousands of people attended the annual Jerusalem Pride Parade in Israel – despite warnings of religious fanatics.

This year marks the 20th LGBT+ parade in the capital and the first since the pandemic.

Photographs show some 7,000 participants swarming the streets, waving rainbow flags and dancing.

But Israeli police were forced to interfere and arrest three people suspected of threatening the event. Two of them were found with batons, tear gas and gloves in their car.

Some 2,400 officers were deployed to protect the march following years of deadly violence.

Past Pride events have seen religious radicals attack revellers. Back in 2015, an Israeli man stabbed 16-year-old Shira Banki to death and wounded several others. He had recently been released for a similar ambush in 2005.

Police said they had identified and were monitoring some 180 people who could pose a threat.

Thousands of people took part in the event organized by the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance (Picture: EPA)

The march was held under heavy police security following death threats (Picture: AFP)

One participant holding a sign that says ‘No one should live in a closet’ (Picture: AFP)

Jerusalem is home to a large ultra-Orthodox Jewish community and several other conservative religious groups. Many residents oppose the parade.

Ahead of the march, an organiser and several pro-LGBT+ parliamentarians also faced death threats.

A disturbing message sent to Jerusalem Open House community director Emuna Klein Barnoy said: ‘We will not allow the Pride Parade to take place in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the Holy City. Shira Banki’s fate awaits you.’

Following the warning – also sent to three members of parliament – police said officers apprehended a 21-year-old European citizen residing in Jerusalem on suspicion of sending the threat.

No other details were given but there was heightened police presence during the march.

This year marks the 20th LGBT+ parade in the capital (Picture: EPA)

The march is also the first one since the Covid-19 pandemic (Picture: AFP)

Some 2,400 officers were deployed (Picture: EPA)

According to the Jerusalem Post, the threats were sent on Facebook and Twitter from a profile called ‘The brothers of Yishai Schlissel’.

Ms Barnoy said: ‘This post surprised me this morning and is definitely very disturbing.

‘On the other hand, it is an important reminder of the importance of the march in Jerusalem.

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‘I believe that the real answer to this kind of incitement and threats is that everyone who supports freedom, equality and pluralism in the State of Israel will come to march with us tomorrow.

‘Our power as one large and powerful unit will make it clear in the clearest way that the LGBT-phobic cries that grate our ears belong to a marginal and extreme minority.’

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