Police on Tuesday arraigned 31-year-old Elhanan Estrovich for spray painting anti- Zionist hate slogans at Yad Vashem on June 11, as well as similar vandalism attacks on Ammunition Hill and the Jordan Valley.
During the police investigation, Estrovich – a haredi resident of Bnei Brak – said that he would have blown up the Knesset, the courts and IDF bases if he could.
Police arrested four haredi suspects from Jerusalem, Ashdod and Bnei Brak on suspicion of spray painting the hate slogans at Yad Vashem.
The suspects – members of Natorei Karta – were found in possession of large amounts of texts condemning Zionism and Israel, PLO flags and paint. Texts suspected to be incitement to hatred were also found on computers.
Natorei Karta – a small but vocal, extreme anti-Zionist sect – believes that the founding of the State of Israel, without specific divine intervention, was a sin.
The attack on Yad Vashem shocked the country and deeply upset Holocaust survivors.
Lawyers for the suspects insisted that they had nothing to do with the events, and the only thing they were guilty of is sending anti-Zionist text messages. At least one of the suspects is undergoing psychiatric evaluation.
“I believe that it was important to know the identities of those who spray painted the graffiti,” said Yad Vashem chairman Avner Shalev. “The suspects are extremist ultra- Orthodox Jews, anti-Zionists, who are on the fringes of society and do not represent the majority who respect the memory of the Holocaust.”
Shalev said the vandalism attack last month was the largest the museum has ever experienced, and that it was the worst thing he had seen in his career.
“Throughout all of Jewish society and Israeli society, [Yad Vashem is] a symbol of unity, of tolerance, of values and openness, of discourse and dialogue among all types of ideas,” Shalev said on the day of the attack.Yaakov Lappin and Melanie Lidman contributed to this report.