Hagai Amir walked out of Ayalon Prison on Friday morning, saying “I have no regrets. I am proud of what I did.” He was met outside by family members and dozens of left-wing protesters.
But the outcry did not end there. Dozens protested Amir’s release on Friday afternoon at Rabin Square, among them many MKs. Labor chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich was quoted by Channel 2 as saying that Amir’s statement of pride constituted “a monstrous and disgusting act.”
Yachimovich added that Amir’s actions “signify, more than anything else, that the struggle for democracy and decency in this country has yet to end.” She then issued a warning against “those dark, violent groups that seek to harm others,” putting Israeli democracy and society at risk.
Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger also harshly criticized Amir’s statement, saying his pride in his complicity in murder was “shameful and impertinent.”
Amir, who was convicted of helping his brother Yigal Amir assassinate former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, flashed a victory sign as he left the prison gates and immediately embraced his mother, father and brother, who took him to the home of relatives in a West Bank settlement for the weekend.
Channel 2 TV showed peace activists outside the prison ahead of Amir’s release holding signs reading, “We won’t forgive, we won’t forget.” As Amir exited the prison and was whisked away in a white van, they chanted “disgrace.”
He was met at his relatives’ home with singing and dancing, while throughout the settlement — Shavei Shomron — signs were posted by residents indicating their disapproval for Amir’s choice of venue for his first Shabbat as a free man.
Chairwoman of the Labor Party Shelly Yachimovich said that the “V” sign flashed by Amir, along with his lack of remorse and the celebrations that awaited him “provoke nausea and disgust.”
“Today we salute Yitzhak Rabin and his legacy,” added Yachimovich, “a legacy that knew how to integrate peace, security, a deep concern for Israeli society and constant contributions to it.”
Peace Now called on the Israeli public Friday morning to initiate a boycott against the Amir family. The peace movement called on Israelis to not hire any members of the family and to refrain from selling them goods and services in order “to continue punishing them by civilian means.”
Hagai Amir has never expressed remorse for aiding in the 1995 murder that shocked the nation. This week, Channel 2 news reported, he told his lawyer that he felt he had “done the right thing,” and that that he had “saved Jewish lives” by effectively derailing the peace process with Rabin’s murder.
Amir was convicted in 1996 of conspiracy to commit murder and possession of a firearm, after his brother’s assassination of Rabin following a peace rally on November 4, 1995. In 2006, half a year was added to his sentence after he was found guilty of threatening to kill Sharon, who led the disengagement from the Gaza Strip.
The impending release of Amir raised the ire of the Rabin family, with the former prime minister’s daughter, Dalia Rabin, stating in an interview in Thursday’s Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper that “people like that should be behind bars forever, or should at least be shunned.”
Rabin’s granddaughter Noa, who as a teenager delivered a moving eulogy at his funeral, wrote on her Facebook wall on Thursday that Amir’s scheduled release from prison “burns” and “is insulting to the point of suffocation.” However, she added, “Hagai Amir is leaving prison. That’s the way it is in a democracy.”