Israeli leader`s memorial defaced to protest swap

In the deal, Hamas will free a soldier they captured five years ago in exchange for the prisoners.

Jerusalem: A man splashed paint and scrawled graffiti over the memorial of slain Israeli leader Yitzhak Rabin in Tel Aviv early Friday to protest a deal that will release more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, a police spokesman said.

In the deal announced this week, the militant Islamic group Hamas will free a soldier they captured five years ago in exchange for the prisoners, some of whom are convicted of carrying out or masterminding attacks that killed Israelis.

The impending release of Sgt Gilad Schalit prompted widespread celebrations in Israel, but also deep unease that freeing Palestinian militants may invite more attacks.

Police detained a 27-year-old man for defacing the memorial. He said he was protesting the deal, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

The man sprayed "price tag" on the memorial — a slogan used by hardline Jews, usually in attacks against Palestinians.

Rosenfeld said the man claimed his parents were slain in a 2001 suicide bombing in a Jerusalem pizza shop that killed 15 people as well as the attacker.

The man`s claims could not be verified.

A woman who helped the 2001 bomber enter Jerusalem, Ahlam al-Tamimi, is expected to be included in the prisoner exchange.

"What he claims — the suspect himself carried out the incident in connection with the prisoner swap. The suspect says his parents were murdered in a bomb attack," Rosenfeld said.

In protesting the prisoner swap, the vandal scrawled that Rabin`s assassin, Yigal Amir, should be freed. Amir shot Rabin dead in the coastal city of Tel Aviv during a 1995 peace rally and is serving a life sentence for the murder.

The graffiti reflected demands by Israeli extremists that the government should release imprisoned militant Jews — and not Palestinians.

Rosenfeld said the man was released and was given a two-week ban on entering Tel Aviv.

Bureau Report

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