Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin
The assassination of Yitzhak Rabin took place on 4 November 1995 (12 Marcheshvan 5756 on the Hebrew calendar) at 21:30, at the end of a rally in support of the Oslo Accords at the Kings of Israel Square in Tel Aviv. The assassin, an Israeli ultranationalist named Yigal Amir, radically opposed Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's peace initiative, particularly the signing of the Oslo Accords.
|Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin|
|Location||Tel Aviv, Israel|
|Date||November 4, 1995|
|Weapons||Beretta 84F semi-automatic pistol|
|Injured||1 (his body guard)|
The assassination of Israeli Prime Minister and Defence Minister Yitzhak Rabin was the culmination of an anti-violence rally in support of the Oslo peace process. Rabin was disparaged personally by right-wing conservatives and Likud leaders who perceived the Oslo peace process as an attempt to forfeit the occupied territories and a capitulation to Israel's enemies.
National religious conservatives and Likud party leaders believed that withdrawing from any "Jewish" land was heresy. The Likud leader and future prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, accused Rabin's government of being "removed from Jewish tradition [...] and Jewish values". Right-wing rabbis associated with the settlers' movement prohibited territorial concessions to the Palestinians and forbade soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces from evacuating Jewish settlers under the accords. Some rabbis proclaimed din rodef, based on a traditional Jewish law of self-defense, against Rabin personally, arguing that the Oslo Accords would endanger Jewish lives.
Rallies organized by Likud and other right-wing groups featured depictions of Rabin in a Nazi SS uniform, or in the crosshairs of a gun. Protesters compared the Labor party to the Nazis and Rabin to Adolf Hitler and chanted, "Rabin is a murderer" and "Rabin is a traitor". In July 1995, Netanyahu led a mock funeral procession featuring a coffin and hangman's noose at an anti-Rabin rally where protesters chanted, "Death to Rabin". The chief of internal security, Carmi Gillon, then alerted Netanyahu of a plot on Rabin's life and asked him to moderate the protests' rhetoric, which Netanyahu declined to do. Netanyahu denied any intention to incite violence.
Rabin dismissed such protests or labeled them chutzpah. According to Gillon, Rabin refused his requests to wear a bulletproof vest and preferred not to use the armored car purchased for him. Left-wing supporters organized pro-peace rallies in support of the Oslo Accords. It was after one such gathering in Tel Aviv that the assassination took place.
Yigal Amir and din rodef
The assassin was Yigal Amir, a 25-year-old former Hesder student and far-right law student at Bar-Ilan University. Amir had strenuously opposed Rabin's peace initiative, particularly the signing of the Oslo Accords, because he felt that an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank would deny Jews their "biblical heritage which they had reclaimed by establishing settlements". Amir had come to believe that Rabin was a rodef, meaning a "pursuer" who endangered Jewish lives. The concept of din rodef ("law of the pursuer") is a part of traditional Jewish law. Amir believed he would be justified under din rodef in removing Rabin as a threat to Jews in the territories.
In the Israeli settlements, pamphlets debating the validity of applying din rodef and din moser ("law of the informer") to Rabin and the Oslo Accords were distributed at synagogues. Both carried a death sentence according to traditional Halakhic law. There was disagreement among religious Zionists as to whether Amir ever secured authorization from a rabbi to carry out the assassination of Rabin. His father later said that in the months before the assassination, Amir repeatedly "said that the prime minister should be killed because a din rodef was issued against him". During his later trial, Amir stated: "I acted according to din rodef. ... It was not a personal act, I just wanted [Rabin] to be removed from his position".
For his radical activities, Yigal Amir had been brought under attention by the Israeli internal security service (Shin Bet), but the organization only had information on Amir's attempt on creating an anti-Arab militia, not on comments regarding assassinating Rabin, which he openly stated to a number of people. Another incident describing Amir's comments to a fellow student about stating the vidui prior to an earlier, aborted attempt on his life was ignored by the organization as "non-credible". The source refused to name Amir by name but instead described him as a "short Yemeni guy with curly hair".
After the rally, Rabin walked down the city hall steps towards the open door of his car, at which time Amir fired three shots at Rabin with a Beretta 84F semi-automatic pistol. He was immediately subdued by Rabin's bodyguards and arrested with the murder weapon. The third shot missed Rabin and slightly wounded security guard Yoram Rubin.
Rabin was rushed to nearby Ichilov Hospital at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, where he died on the operating table from blood loss and a punctured lung within 40 minutes. Rabin's bureau chief, Eitan Haber, announced outside the gates of the hospital:
The government of Israel announces in consternation, in great sadness, and in deep sorrow, the death of prime minister and minister of defense Yitzhak Rabin, who was murdered by an assassin, tonight in Tel Aviv. The government shall convene in one hour for a mourning session in Tel Aviv. Blessed be his memory.
In Rabin's pocket was a blood-stained sheet of paper with the lyrics to the well-known Israeli song "Shir LaShalom" ("Song for Peace"), which was sung at the rally and dwells on the impossibility of bringing a dead person back to life and, therefore, the need for peace.
The funeral of Rabin took place on November 6, two days after the assassination, at the Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem, where Rabin was later buried. Hundreds of world leaders, including about 80 heads of state, attended the funeral. President of the United States Bill Clinton, King Hussein of Jordan, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Spanish Prime Minister and European Council President-in-Office Felipe González, Prime Minister of Canada Jean Chrétien, acting Israeli Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, President of the Republic of the Congo Denis Sassou Nguesso, and President of Israel Ezer Weizman were among those present.
Rabin's assassination was a shock to the Israeli public. Rallies and memorials took place near Kings of Israel Square—later renamed Rabin Square in his honor—as well as near Rabin's home, the Knesset building, and the home of the assassin. Many other streets and public buildings around the country were named for Rabin as well.
The assassination has been described as emblematic of a kulturkampf ("cultural struggle") between religious right-wing and secular left-wing forces within Israel. Ilan Peleg of the Middle East Institute has described Rabin's assassination as "reflecting a deep cultural divide within Israel's body politic [...] intimately connected with the peace process" which illustrates both increased polarization and political conflict in the country.
On 28 March 1996, the Shamgar Commission issued its final report into the assassination. It was critical of Shin Bet for putting the Prime Minister at risk and ignoring threats to his life from Jewish extremists.
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Religious ultranationalists saw Rabin's willingness to trade Jewish land for peace with the Palestinians as a sin against divine law.
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- 'Soldier for peace' Rabin buried
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|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin|
- "Israel marks Rabin assassination", BBC, Nov 12, 2005
- "A sombre night in Rabin Square", BBC, Nov 12, 2005
- Could He Have Been Saved? An article by Ronen Bergman in Haaretz
- 10-minute video of Rabin's assassination hosted on Google Video
- Assassination part of the Kempler video on CNN (10 seconds)
- Koenraad Elst on Yitzhak Rabin's Assassination
- "The Night in Question". This American Life. Episode 570. Chicago. October 16, 2015. Public Radio Exchange. WBEZ. Retrieved October 17, 2015. Covers the assassination and its conspiracy theories, including an interview with Yigal Amir's brother and co-conspirator Hagai Amir and a new forensic examination of the shirt Rabin was wearing when he was shot.