The brother and co-conspirator of the man who assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 was released Thursday after serving over 16 years in prison.
I am proud of what I did, Hagai Amir, 43, told Israel Radio as he left the grounds of Ayalon Prison in Ramla, Israel.
Amir's brother Yigal Amir, a far-right Jewish extremist, gunned down Rabin, a member of the center-left Israeli Labor Party, on November 4, 1995, following a peace rally in Tel Aviv. He is currently serving a life sentence.
Hagai Amir was convicted in 1996 of conspiring to murder Rabin after a court found that he had helped his brother plot out the assassination and conducted surveillance on the former prime minister's home, BBC News reported.
He was initially sentenced to 16 years, but his term was extended another six months after he was convicted of threatening the life of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2006, according to the Associated Press.
Activists on both the left and right, along with police and reporters, gathered outside Ayalon Prison as Amir was released.
We are here to prevent the next Yigal Amir. We must remember that even today, this man does not regret his actions, nor apologize for them, Dror Morag, secretary general of the left-wing Meretz Party, told the Haaretz newspaper as he stood among the protesters. He has still not paid his debt to society. He didn't only kill a prime minister, he killed an entire democracy.
Rabin had signed the Oslo Accords with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 1993, which began a peace process that would grant Palestinians authority over the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Amir brothers have said they opposed Rabin's policy of granting territorial concessions to Palestinians in exchange for peace.
Noam Federman, a right-wing activist, hailed Amir's release and offered criticism of the late Prime Minister Rabin.
The man deserves to be freed, he deserves to be congratulated. Hagai Amir did not do anything. The State of Israel could not believe that Yigal Amir acted alone, and sought to find an underground organization. Hagai did not do anything, he did not even know that there was a plot to kill the Prime Minister, Federman told Haaretz.
Rabin caused the deaths of thousands of Jews. I do not support murder, but even today, I'm not shedding any tears for him [Rabin]. We will greet him [Amir] warmly, and throw him a party, he added.
Amir was greeted in Ramla by relatives and will be staying his family over the weekend in the West Bank settlement Shavei Shomron, where more protests are expected to take place.
We'll be there to protest both as Laborites and Herzliya residents, said Michal Silberberg of the Labor Party's Young Guard contingent, Haaretz reported. We won't forget and won't forgive. We'll remind him of the abominable act every year.