Who is convicted murderer Yona Avrushmi?

Written by on August 9, 2020

“I don’t harm anyone, I don’t go to demonstrations… I stay at home, I study, eat, drink, that’s it,” said the convicted murderer.

Peace Now demonstration outside of the Kochav HaShahar settlement in the West Bank. (photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)

Peace Now demonstration outside of the Kochav HaShahar settlement in the West Bank.

(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)

The Police investigations and intelligence unit announced on Sunday night that it had opened an investigation into comments by convicted murderer Yona Avrushmi on suspicion for incitement to violence.

In an interview to Channel 12 broadcast on Friday, Avrushmi, who killed a left-wing protestor in 1983, called anti-government protestors “germs” and said that although he was not going to right-wing protests “there are young men who know what to do.”

The police said that the investigation had been authorized by deputy state attorney for special missions, and that Avrushmi’s comments “raised suspicion for the crime of incitement to violence.”

That grenade killed peace activist Emil Grunzweig and injured nine others, including future Knesset speaker Avraham Burg and future government minister Yuval Steinitz.

Avrushmi served 27 years in prison, two-thirds of his sentence, and was released from jail in 2011.

On Friday night, Avrushmi’s name once again hit the headlines after he made comments widely seen as incitement to violence against the current anti-government and anti-prime minister demonstrations.

Speaking to Channel 12 in an interview aired on Friday, he referred to the anti-government demonstrators in 1983 as “germs,” and insisted that protesters against today’s government are similarly “germs,” who “spread disease” and need to be distanced from society.

Asked whether he has been to the right-wing counterprotests, Avrushmi said, “I do not go to Balfour [Street] today. There are young men, they go, they know what to do, they know precisely what to do.”

The Crime Minister anti-government activist group involved in the recent demonstrations filed a complaint with the police for incitement to violence.

Avrushmi, formerly a resident of Jerusalem, worked at a locksmith in the settlement of Ofra before he was sent to jail.

An article in Maariv quoted the owner of the Ofra locksmith at the time as saying that Avrushmi was inclined to “imagine things.”

In his recent Channel 12 interview, Avrushmi appeared agitated, combative and unrepentant, but not especially coherent.

Asked to recount the night he threw the grenade, Avrushmi cut off the interviewer and said, “I threw it, what’s the problem,” adding curtly that he had gone alone because “you don’t need anyone else to throw a grenade.”

He said he went home, went to bed, and slept fine, asking why the interviewer appeared shocked at his sangfroid.

Avrushmi did not and does not have any particular ideological affiliations or associations and acted, as far as it seems, as a lone wolf, something which makes the security services today still wary of him.

He is ostensibly religious, and always wore a yarmulke, although these days it is a black velvet one more associated with the ultra-Orthodox community than the knitted yarmulkes he used to wear, which are a symbol of the religious-Zionist community in whose milieu he was found, such as in the Ofra settlement where he worked.

According to the Channel 12 report, Avrushmi was separated from his wife and baby even before he attacked the protest in 1983, but was also involved in criminal activity such as breaking and entering.

Speaking of the left-wing protesters he attacked, he said that they did “totally illogical things,” and that “they incited, they did things, I don’t know what they did, they made claims. What is this?”

Asked if he hates the current anti-government protesters, Avrushmi said, “They hate me! Why should I not hate them. They are bad people, haters of Jews.”

When asked how he could contemplate murder when he was only 27, knowing that if he was caught he would sit for decades in jail, Avrushmi said, “When you love a person, you are willing to die for him.

“What I’m trying to say here is that Netanyahu, who people love, are willing to die for him too,” and said he loved then-prime minister Menachem Begin as people love Netanyahu today, adding that he himself loves Netanyahu more than he loved Begin.

Asked if he goes to pro-Netanyahu protests, Avrushmi said, “I don’t harm anyone, I don’t go to demonstrations… I stay at home, I study, eat, drink, that’s it.”

“[At] Balfour there are young men, they go there, they know what to do, they know exactly what to do,” he said.

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