Israel's Sweden Ambassador Compares Palestinian Prisoners to Mass Killer Breivik

The ambassador’s remarks have caused a storm in Sweden, and have garnered harsh criticism from the families of Breivik’s victims.

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Barak Ravid
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ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

The Israeli ambassador in Stockholm, Isaac Bachman, speaking to Swedish government radio Tuesday, compared Israel’s release of 26 Palestinian prisoners to releasing right-wing extremist Anders Breivik, who was responsible for the massacres on the Norwegian island of Utoya in 2011.

The ambassador’s remarks have caused a storm in Sweden, and have garnered harsh criticism from the families of Breivik’s victims.

“The horrors that [the Palestinian prisoners] did, to put it in a Scandinavian understanding, it’s like what happened in Norway with Breivik,” said Bachman, explaining that Israel has not received enough credit from the international community for releasing the prisoners.

“Imagine if Breivik was released as a gesture of some sort,” he added, explaining that Israel was not getting enough credit for agreeing to the release. “Research has shown that these people will return to crime. It’s not easy to get public support for releasing these people.”

According to the Swedish English-language news website, both survivors of Breivik’s massacre and family members of the victims have expressed outrage over the Israeli ambassador’s comments.

“I think it is ridiculous to compare this with a mass murderer from Norway,” Trond Blattmann, whose son Torjusdatter was killed when Breivik opened fire on Utøya, told The Local. “There’s no similarity at all. This is a ridiculous way to talk.”

Bjørn Ihler, who survived the massacre by hiding from Breivik, also said that the comparison “does not make sense.”

“Breivik was a solo terrorist whose actions were based purely on an unreal situation. The situation in the Middle East is very different. There is a real fight for Palestinian freedom going on,” said Ihler.

In July 2011, Breivik traveled to the Norwegian Island of Utoya, near Oslo, to an event being held at a Workers' Youth League summer camp. Breivik wandered about the island before perpetrating the massacre that claimed the lives of 77 young boys and girls. It took a whole hour for police to arrive on the scene and arrest him.

In addition to the shooting on Utoya, Breivik rigged a car bomb next to government offices in Oslo. Eight people were killed in the blast. In August 2012, Breivik was convicted and sentenced to 21 years in jail — the maximum punishment for murder according to Norwegian law.

Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik.Credit: AP

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