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Popular radio talk show host Gabi Gazit called Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jews "leeches" and "worms" in a monologue on his show yesterday.

His remarks on the regional station Radio Lelo Hafsaka (Nonstop Radio), which broadcasts in the center and north of the country, were in response to Independence Day clashes between policemen and ultra-Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem who oppose celebration of the holiday.

MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) filed a complaint with the Press Council over Gazit's comments. The Second Broadcasting Authority, which regulates regional radio stations, said it would demand clarification of the comments from the station's management.

"On the very day on which [Israelis] are elevated by a sense of patriotism," Gazit said in the broadcast, "those stinking tumors who live among us burst forth and spread their smelly odor ... "Those [people] don't serve in the army, but the very existence of their yeshivas is based on the existence of the Israel Defense Forces, the defender of the people. The Haredim hate the state ... They sanctify bones. They sanctify nonsense. They use our airport on their trips to spread their hatred of the state among all the countries of the world, and their existence would be impossible if this tolerant and stupid state did not keep them alive."

Gazit suggested that Haredim who show contempt for the state should be isolated, have their electricity and water shut off or even be expelled to the United States. He called them "parasites of the worst kind."

Gazit also criticized West Bank settlers who clashed with soldiers on Independence Day: "Those who derive their security and economic independence from the state, who have received lavish benefits in housing and employment, around whom Israeli soldiers create a defensive wall, it was these very people who found this a fit day to run wild and vent their holy rage on the Palestinians."

Radio Lelo Hafsaka CEO Eyal Pe'er said in response: "Gabi Gazit, like all radio broadcasters, is entitled to express his opinions freely. We will address complaints or reactions when they arrive at the station."