Rabin's killer's brother released to mass outrage

By Jessica Elgot, May 4, 2012
Demonstrators were outside Ayalon Prison as Hagai Amir left

Demonstrators were outside Ayalon Prison as Hagai Amir left

The brother of the assassin who shot Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was greeted with furious demonstrations after his release from prison this week.

Hagai Amir, 43, whose brother Yigal shot Mr Rabin in 1995 during a peace rally in Tel Aviv, was released after more than 16 years in prison for helping his brother during his “research” prior to the murder. Amir told Israeli media he was “proud of what I did”.

Israeli media reported that Amir would be returning to his parents’ home in Herzilya, and the weekend in the West Bank settlement of Shavei Shomron.

Residents of the town were said to be furious that Amir would be spending Shabbat in the settlement, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Signs have been hung in the town, which say “Thou shalt not kill”. A local resident told Channel 10: “We dissociate ourselves entirely from this visit and of course we completely dissociate ourselves from anything linked to Rabin's murder. This is a completely private visit that people do not view favourably. We have no way to prevent it, but we are not pleased about it.”

Demonstrators were outside Ayalon Prison, watched closely by police, as Amir left, giving the victory salute. Yigal Amir is still serving a life sentence at Rimonim Prison.

Mr Rabin’s family have condemned the release of Amir, citing that the accomplice has shown “no remorse.” He is believed to have helped his brother conduct surveillance of the former prime minister’s home, as his brother plotted to kill the politician for advancing the two-state solution.

Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger condemned Amir’s lack of remorse. "To be proud of participation in the murder [of Rabin] is an embarrassment, a disgrace and chutzpah. It seems that sixteen and a half years was not enough time for him to learn his lesson."

Labour leader Shelly Yacimovich said the victory celebrations greeting Amir on his release "suggest that the seeds of violent extremism that challenges Israeli democracy, still lie concealed among us, and still threaten Israeli society.

"We denounce the murderous brothers, and we will defeat them, and those like them. Today we salute Yitzhak Rabin and his legacy. His legacy that knew how to combine peace, security, a deep concern for Israeli society, and an endless contribution to it."

Last updated: 3:50pm, May 4 2012