The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court remanded Elhanan Ostrowitz, one of three suspects arrested for allegedly spray painting anti-Zionist graffiti on the walls of Yad Vashem, for five days on Tuesday. Another suspect, a minor, was remanded for 24 hours and the third, Avraham Ben Yosef, was released under limited conditions.
Ostrowitz told Channel 10 reporters that his vandalism was an act of protest against what he called Yad Vashem’s the selective representation of the Holocaust. He also called the remembrance museum and organization a political tool for Zionism.
The three were arrested overnight Monday on suspicion of mounting a months-long anti-Zionist graffiti and vandalism spree, police reported Tuesday morning. The suspects have reportedly confessed to their crimes, which include defacing a fallen soldiers’ memorial in the Jordan Valley, Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem and most recently Yad Vashem.
In early June, spray painted anti-Zionist statements were found on the entrance to Israel’s Holocaust museum, including the phrases “Hitler, thank you for the great Holocaust. Only because of that we received a state from the UN,” and “The State of Israel — the spiritual Auschwitz of Sephardic Jewry.”
The men, aged 17, 26 and 27, are residents of Jerusalem and Bnei Brak and were apprehended after a thorough investigation, police said. They were arrested in an apartment containing publications condemning Zionism and Israel, spray paint, PLO flags and incriminating material found on computers, police added. Ostrowitz is believed to be the group’s leader and prosecutors managed to convince the judges that if released, he would attempt to disrupt the police’s ongoing investigation.
Police chief Yohanan Danino said authorities were still trying to reach other people suspected in the crimes.
The vandalism spree began when the Jordan Valley memorial was painted with a Palestinian flag and defaced with anti-Zionist slogans in April. Just days later, the Ammunition Hill site in Jerusalem, which commemorates a major battle during the Six-Day War, was defaced with statements praising German poet Günter Grass, who was making news at the time for a controversial poem which was perceived as being anti-Israel.
Both Bnei Brak and Jerusalem are home to large ultra-Orthodox communities. Some ultra-Orthodox sects, including the extremist Neturei Karta, reject the idea of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel and instead support Palestinian statehood.