Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin

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°04′54.8″N 34°46′51.4″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 and a capitulation to Israel's enemies.[2][3]

National religious conservatives and Likud party leaders believed that withdrawing from any "Jewish" land was heresy.[4] The Likud leader and future prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, accused Rabin's government of being "removed from Jewish tradition [...] and Jewish values".[2][3] 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.[5][6] 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.[5][7]

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.[2][3] Protesters compared the Labor party to the Nazis and Rabin to Adolf Hitler[5] and chanted, "Rabin is a murderer" and "Rabin is a traitor".[8][9][10] 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".[11][12] 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.[8][13][10] Netanyahu denied any intention to incite violence.[2][3][14]

Rabin dismissed such protests or labeled them chutzpah.[2] According to Gillon, Rabin refused his requests to wear a bulletproof vest and preferred not to use the armored car purchased for him.[15][16] 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.[3]

Yigal Amir and din rodef

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.[17]

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.[6] There was disagreement among religious Zionists as to whether Amir ever secured authorization from a rabbi to carry out the assassination of Rabin.[18] 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".[19] 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".[20]

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.[21] 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".[22]