The murderer of a left-wing activist at a 1983 rally called Israelis taking part in protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government, which have grown in recent weeks, "germs," adding that "there’s no question they spread diseases and should be removed from society."
Yona Avrushmi, who was released in 2011 after being imprisoned for the murder of Emil Grunzweig at a Peace Now rally, told Channel 12 News on Friday he hates the anti-governent protesters, saying: “They hate me, too. They are evil people, enemies of the nation.”
His remarks in a rare TV appearance led an anti-Netanyahu protest group to lodge a complaint with the police.
Avrushmi’s words echo what he said during his interrogation over the 1983 murder, that the demonstrators he had thrown a grenade at were like “germs that need to be exterminated.”
Regarding the demonstrations held in Jerusalem and in other cities across Israel over the last few weeks, he said that he wouldn’t be going to the area. "There are young people who’ll go there, and they know what to do," he said.
There have been multiple arrests of people suspected of physically assaulting protesters at anti-Netanyahu demonstrations because of right-wing beliefs, and while Netanyahu has alleged violent incitement and threats against him, others have accused him of being ultimately responsible for attacks on protesters.
The Crime Minister anti-corruption group, one of the main forces behind the protests, said Avrushim’s comments on Channel 12 constitute incitement to commit violence. “The despicable murderer Avrushmi has permitted the shedding of the blood of citizens holding a legitimate and non-violent protest against the government,” said the group. “We demand that the police arrest him immediately and deliver a clear message of deterrence and zero tolerance to the young people he is encouraging. Avrushmi idolizes Netanyahu, and it seems that it was Netanyahu’s dangerous expressions that were issuing forth from Avrushmi’s mouth.”
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The group condemned Channel 12 for broadcasting Avrushmi’s statement.
Avrushmi served 27 years for the murder of Grunzweig when he threw a grenade at a rally. He never expressed remorse . “I didn’t buy a grenade in order to leave it at home,” he said while recounting the crime. “I threw it and went home to sleep.” Regarding his motive, he said: “When you love someone, you’re willing to die for them. I loved [then Prime Minister Menachem] Begin then, just like they admire Netanyahu now, and I love Netanyahu more than I loved Begin.”
Avrushmi threw a fragmentation grenade at a rally held in February of 1983 by the Peace Now movement across from the Prime Minister’s office in the wake of the first Lebanon war. Nine demonstrators were injured, including Avraham Burg, a future Knesset speaker and head of the Jewish Agency, and Yuval Steinitz, the current energy minister.
Protesters called on Begin’s government to accept the recommendations of the Kahan Commission that was set up following the massacre at the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps in Beirut, committed by a Phalangist militia allied with Israel. The commission found that Israelis (including the military, Begin and Defense Minister Ariel Sharon) had indirect responsibility for ignoring the danger in allowing the Phalangists into the camps. Avrushmi was arrested a year after the murder and confessed to the crime. He was given a life sentence, with President Ezer Weizman setting the sentence at 27 years in 1995.