Rabin memorial vandalized, suspect detained

An Israeli man lights a candle at a memorial site for late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in Tel Aviv on October 20, 2010.

Story highlights

  • The attack comes as the Israeli Cabinet approved a deal for the release of Sgt. Shalit
  • There have been numerous 'price tag' attacks in recent days
  • It is a term frequently used by radical Israeli settlers to denote reprisal attacks against Palestinians
  • Police have created a special investigative unit
Authorities detained a man early Friday after he vandalized the memorial of late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, according to police.
Shvuel Schijveschuurder was apprehended at the scene, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
The memorial was covered with white paint and pink graffiti, and the words "price tag" sprayed on it.
A nearby wall was also defaced with blue and pink graffiti reading "price tag," and "Free Yigal Amir" -- in reference to Rabin's killer.
Yigal Amir, who is serving a life sentence for the murder, is a right-wing Israeli radical who assassinated the prime minister on November 4, 1995 because he was opposed to Rabin's signing of the Oslo Accords.
Initially, the vandalization of the memorial was believed to be a "price tag" attack, but was later determined to be tied to next week's expected Palestinian prisoner exchange.
Schijveschuurder lost his parents and three siblings in a 2001 terror attack. The Palestinian who planned the attack is among those to be released.
"Price tag" is a term frequently used by radical Israeli settlers to denote reprisal attacks against Palestinians in response to moves by the Israeli government to evacuate illegal West Bank outposts, or as retribution for attacks by Palestinians. Police say the attack on the memorial does not fit the profile of a "price tag" attack because it wasn't a Palestinian target.
The attack comes as the Israeli Cabinet this week approved a deal to exchange more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners -- many linked to some of the deadliest terror attacks on Israeli civilians in recent years -- for the release of an Israeli solider captured by militants more than five years ago.
Sgt. Gilad Shalit has been held captive by Hamas without any contact with the outside world since the summer of 2006, and efforts to end his captivity have become a rallying cry for thousands of Israelis who have actively supported efforts by his family to put pressure on the government to bring about his release.
The attack also follows a spate of recent 'price tag' incidents in Israeli cities.
A few days ago, dozens of graves were vandalized in the Muslim cemetery of al-Kazakhana and at a nearby Christian cemetery in the Ajami neighborhood of Jaffa.
Words spray-painted in Hebrew on the gravestones included "death to all Arabs," "death to all Russians" and "price tag." Graffiti also included words associated with a local football fan club.
This followed an arson attack in the Bedouin village Tuba Zangaria in northern Israel the week before.
According to Israeli police, reprisal attacks have increased in the past year, prompting them to create a special investigative unit.
In the past year, four West Bank mosques have been set ablaze. The United Nations has reported a measurable spike in violence against Palestinian property in 2011.
The past weeks have also seen an increase in attack on Jewish holy sites.
Late Tuesday, vandals scrawled "Death to the Jews" on four synagogues and a vehicle in the northern city of Safed. And a week earlier, Jewish worshippers arrived at Joseph's Tomb in the city of Nablus to find swastikas and graffiti sprayed on the walls.
It is unclear when the graffiti was left there.
The site is under Palestinian Authority rule, and Jews visit every couple of months to pray.