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Rabin memorial trashed in prisoner deal protest

Oct. 14, 2011 11:04 A.M. (Updated: Oct. 16, 2011 6:16 P.M.)
TEL AVIV (Reuters) -- A monument commemorating Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was defaced early on Friday, in an apparent protest against the upcoming release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for a captured Israeli soldier.

White paint was spilled over the monument, and the words "price tag" and "free Yigal Amir," Rabin's convicted assassin, were sprayed on the monument and on a near by wall.

"Price Tag" is typically the calling-card slogan used by militant Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank and their supporters.

Israeli media reported that the Israeli who sprayed the slogans said his parents were killed in a Palestinian suicide attack and that his motive for the vandalism is his objection to the prisoner swap deal agreed upon by Israel and Hamas.

The vandal, named in Israeli media as Shvuel Schijveschuurder, was detained by Tel Aviv municipality security personnel.

Israeli police did not confirm his identity, but said the suspect's parents were killed in a Jerusalem pizzeria suicide bombing in 2001.

"His parents were killed in the bombing and he was apparently protesting against the prisoner exchange. He is still being questioned," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

According to the prisoner exchange deal, Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit will be freed from five years of captivity in the Gaza Strip next week in exchange for the release of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails.

The deal, over three years in the making and a casualty of at least two breakdowns, was finally brokered last week with Egyptian mediation between Israel and Hamas.

While most Israelis welcomed the prisoner swap, many family members of Israelis killed by those slated for release voiced objection to the swap.

Several lists of prisoners set to be freed are being circulated, but the Gaza ministry of prisoners affairs says none of them are entirely accurate.

The Israel Prisons Authority web site will release a full list late on Saturday or early Sunday, its says, after which there will be a 48-hour period during which the Supreme Court can hear legal objections.

Families of the Israeli victims have said they will protest, but this is not expected to halt the swap, which has broad political and public support in Israel.

Israeli police are investigating the vandalism of the Rabin memorial, which stands on the spot where he was assassinated in 1995 by Yigal Amir, an Israeli radical opposed to his brokering of the Oslo Accords which established limited Palestinian self-rule.
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