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Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin

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Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin
Site of the rally before the assassination: Kings of Israel Square (since renamed Rabin Square) with Tel Aviv's City Hall in the background during the day.
LocationTel Aviv, Israel
Coordinates32°04′54.8″N 34°46′51.4″E / 32.081889°N 34.780944°E / 32.081889; 34.780944Coordinates: 32°04′54.8″N 34°46′51.4″E / 32.081889°N 34.780944°E / 32.081889; 34.780944
DateNovember 4, 1995
TargetYitzhak Rabin
Attack type
WeaponsBeretta 84F semi-automatic pistol
Deaths1 (Rabin)
Non-fatal injuries
1 (his body guard)
PerpetratorYigal Amir

The assassination of Yitzhak Rabin took place on 4 November 1995 (12th of 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 Rabin's peace initiative and particularly the signing of the Oslo Accords.


Yitzhak Rabin's family mourn at his funeral.

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.[1] Rabin, despite his extensive service in the Israeli military, was disparaged personally by right-wing conservatives and Likud leaders who perceived the Oslo peace process as an attempt to forfeit the occupied territories.

National religious conservatives and Likud party leaders believed that withdrawing from any "Jewish" land was heresy. Rallies, organized partially by Likud, became increasingly extreme in tone. Likud leader (and future Prime Minister) Benjamin Netanyahu accused Rabin's government of being "removed from Jewish tradition ... and Jewish values." Netanyahu addressed protesters of the Oslo movement at rallies where posters portrayed Rabin in a Nazi SS uniform or being the target in the cross-hairs of a sniper.[2] Rabin accused Netanyahu of provoking violence, a charge which Netanyahu strenuously denied.[3] Netanyahu's advisor Zalman Shoval replied that Netanyahu had in fact tried to silence the anti-Rabin chants and had not seen the SS poster.[4]

Yigal Amir

Yitzhak Rabin grave, December 1995.

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.[5]

According to Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Amir's interpretation of din rodef is a gross distortion of Jewish law and tradition:

First of all, the law of the pursuer only applies to a spontaneous act, whereas Yigal Amir planned this assassination for two years. Secondly, the law of the pursuer is only intended to save a potential victim from imminent death. There is absolutely no proof that withdrawing from certain territories will directly lead to the death of any Jews. On the contrary, Prime Minister Rabin, over half the members of the Knesset, and over half the population of Israel believe exactly the opposite—that it will save Jewish lives. Lastly, this law does not refer to elected representatives, for if Yitzhak Rabin was really a pursuer, then so are all his followers and that would mean that Amir should have killed over half the population of Israel! In other words, even according to the law of the pursuer, this act was totally futile and senseless since the peace process will continue.[6]

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.[7] 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".[8]


The monument at the site of the assassination: Solomon ibn Gabirol Street between the Tel Aviv City Hall and Gan Ha'ir (in the back). The monument is composed of broken rocks, which represent the political earthquake that the assassination represents.

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 .380 ACP caliber 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.[9][10]

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.[11]

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.[12][13][14]

Reactions and funeral

US president Bill Clinton in Rabin's funeral. The final words were in Hebrew – "Shalom, Haver" (Hebrew: שלום חבר‎, lit. Goodbye, Friend)

The assassination of Rabin 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.[citation needed]

The funeral of Rabin took place on November 6,[15] two days after the assassination, at the Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem, where Rabin was buried. Hundreds of world leaders, including about 80 heads of state, attended the funeral.[16] President of the United States Bill Clinton,[17] King Hussein of Jordan,[18] Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands,[19] Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin,[20] Spanish Prime Minister and European Council President-in-Office Felipe González[21] Prime Minister of Canada Jean Chrétien, acting Israeli Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres,[22] United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali,[23] Rabin's granddaughter Noa Ben-Artzi Filosof,[24] former director-general of the prime minister's office Shimon Sheves,[25] Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak,[26] President of the Republic of the Congo Denis Sassou Nguesso, director of the Prime Minister's Bureau Eitan Haber,[27] and President of Israel Ezer Weizman[28] were among those present.

Amir was sentenced to be in prison for the rest of his life.[citation needed]

A national memorial day for Rabin is set on the date of his death according to the Hebrew calendar.[citation needed]

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.[29]

See also


  1. ^ Rabin, Leah (1997). Rabin: His Life, Our Legacy. G.P. Putnam's Sons. pp. 7, 11. ISBN 0-399-14217-7.
  2. ^ Demonstration with Netanyahu on YouTube
  3. ^ Smith, Charles D. Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict A History with Documents, ISBN 0-312-43736-6, pp. 464, 466.
  4. ^ Shoval, Zalman (December 1, 1995). "Netanyahu Silenced Anti-Rabin Chants". New York Times.
  5. ^ Smith, pp. 458, 468
  6. ^ Rabbinic Response: Jewish Law on the Killing of Yitzhak Rabin, by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, The Shalom Center, 14 November 2005
  7. ^ Ephron, p. 135
  8. ^ Ephron, pp. 148–57
  9. ^ Barak T: Ten years have passed, friend. Tel Aviv Newspaper (in Hebrew)
  10. ^ Perry D: Israel and the Quest for Permanence, p. 216.
  11. ^ יצחק רבין – ביוגרפיה [Yitzhak Rabin – Biography]. Ministry of Culture and Sport (in Hebrew). 2010-12-29. Retrieved 2015-05-06.
  12. ^ Schmemann, Serge. "Assassination in Israel; Rabin Slain After Peace Rally in Tel Aviv; Israeli Gunman Held; Says He Acted Alone".
  13. ^ Morris, Benny (2014). The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World (Second ed.). Norton Paperback. p. 567. ISBN 9780393346862.
  14. ^ Morris, Benny. "After Rabin". JSTOR 2538187.
  15. ^ 'Soldier for peace' Rabin buried
  16. ^ ""World Leaders in Attendance at the Funeral of the Late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin." 6 November 1995. Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  17. ^ "Eulogy for the Late Prime Minister and Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin by U.S. President Bill Clinton." 6 November 1995. Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  18. ^ "Eulogy for the Late Prime Minister and Defense Yitzhak Rabin by His Majesty King Hussein of Jordan." 6 November 1995. Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  19. ^ "http://vorige.nrc.nl/redactie/Web/Nieuws/19951106/01.html" NRC Handelsblad, 6 November 1995.
  20. ^ "Eulogy for the Late Prime Minister and Defense Yitzhak Rabin by Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin." 6 November 1995. Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  21. ^ "Eulogy for the Late Prime Minister and Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin by Felipe Gonzalez, Prime Minister of Spain and Current EU President." 6 November 1995. Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  22. ^ "Eulogy for the Late Prime Minister and Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin by Acting Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres." 6 November 1995. Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  23. ^ "Eulogy for the Late Prime Minister and Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin by Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Secretary-General of the United Nations." 6 November 1995. Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  24. ^ "Eulogy by Noa Ben-Artzi Filosof for Her Grandfather, the Late Prime Minister and Defense Yitzhak Rabin." 6 November 1995. Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  25. ^ "Eulogy for the Late Prime Minister and Defense Yitzhak Rabin by Former Dir-Gen PM's Office Shimon Sheves." 6 November 1995. Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  26. ^ "Eulogy for the Late Prime Minister and Defense Yitzhak Rabin by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak." 6 November 1995. Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  27. ^ Eulogy for the Late Prime Minister and Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin by Director of PM's Bureau Eitan Haber." 6 November 1995. Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  28. ^ Eulogy for the Late Prime Minister and Defense Yitzhak Rabin by President Ezer Weizman." 6 November 1995. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  29. ^ Ephron, pp. 229–30

Further reading

External links