Yitzhak Rabin memorial - Hadar Cohen - 14.10.2011
Vandalism of Yitzhak Rabin memorial, Oct. 14, 2011. Photo by Hadar Cohen
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A man defaced the memorial to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin at Tel Aviv City Hall late Thursday night, splashing white paint on its stones and spraying graffiti nearby reading "price tag" and "Free Yigal Amir," Rabin's assassin.

The man, who was caught in the act by security cameras and detained by security guards, was identified as Shvuel Schijveschuurder, 27, a survivor of the 2001 suicide bombing at a Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem. His parents and three of his siblings were among the 15 civilians killed.

Schijveschuurder, who lives in the Tel Aviv suburb of Givat Shmuel, told police investigators that his actions were a protest against the expected release in the Shalit exchange deal of Palestinian prisoners involved in the Sbarro attack. He was released on bail and ordered to stay out of Tel Aviv for 15 days.

Schijveschuurder had spoken to Haaretz about the Shalit deal earlier that evening. He said the Shalit family sold out Israel for the price of their son's freedom.

"I question the purity of the Shalit family's intentions. Gilad Shalit and his family sold the country to free 1,000 'freedom fighters'," Schijveschuurder said. "I have a feeling he wasn't even in captivity; maybe they set up a nice apartment for him in Egypt, not in Gaza, playing with us so they'd have an excuse to free terrorists one day."

When asked what he thought about the newly signed deal, Schijveschuurder told Haaretz: "Does my opinion about the deal matter? Would anyone care? There's a minority here that's forcing its opinion on the majority. They're just sitting there laughing at us."

According to Schijveschuurder, "[Social protest leader] Daphni Leef and her friends hold a protest and call it the March of the Million. In fact, it's just a small minority that's making a mockery of the absolute majority of the people and doing whatever it wants."

Last week Schijveschuurder's sister Haya, 20, waved signs against the exchange deal amid a large crowd celebrating the announcement of the agreement near the protest tent of Shalit's parents in Jerusalem. Her signs read "I wish the Sbarro terrorist would carry out an attack against the Shalits" and "My parents' blood screams from the grave!"

Commenting on his sister's actions, Schijveschuurder said: "My opinions are all right compared to hers and compared to how she feels about the deal. She was badly wounded in the [Sbarro] attack, she feels that releasing the terrorist is as if she were raped and then the rapist went and murdered her parents and is now being released. For her it's like being raped twice."

Dmitri Breitman, a security guard at City Hall, grabbed Schijveschuurder around midnight Thursday night as he tried to flee in a taxi. Breitman said the suspect seemed confused, that he said his family had been hurt in a terror attack, and that his actions were a protest against the imminent release of Palestinian terrorists.

Mayor Ron Huldai denounced the vandalism. "Hands that allow themselves to harm that which is sacred and important to the Israeli people should be amputated," he said. Huldai met with Breitman on Friday to thank him for taking action.

In a statement, organizers of the annual Rabin memorial gathering, scheduled for November 5, said: "The incident is a painful reminder of why it is important this year more than ever that the rally takes place, and that even 16 years later we not forget that a prime minister was assassinated in the State of Israel."