The assassination of Yitzhak Rabin took place on November 4, 1995 (12th of Cheshvan, 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, Yigal Amir, a right-wing religious Zionist strenuously opposed Rabin's peace initiative and particularly the signing of the Oslo Accords.
The assassination of Israeli Prime Minister and defense minister Yitzhak Rabin was the culmination of Israeli right-wing dissent over the Oslo Peace Process. Rabin, despite his extensive service in the Israeli military, was disparaged personally by ultra-orthodox conservatives and Likud leaders who perceived the Oslo peace process as an attempt to forfeit the occupied territories (466 Smith). Contrary to Likud’s accusations, Rabin was focused on the consolidation of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. He planned to give the Palestinian Liberation Organization control of 90% of the West Bank’s Arab population, while retaining 70% of the land in the occupied territories (464 Smith). In a speech to the Knesset, Rabin promised that Israel would continue to have “total freedom of action in order to fulfill the security aims that touch upon the permanent solution (464 Smith).”
Nonetheless, hostility continued to mount against Rabin. Ultra-orthodox conservatives and Likud party leaders believed that withdrawing from any Jewish land was heresy (466 Smith). Rallies, organized partially by Likud, became increasingly extreme in tone (466 Smith). 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 target by in the crosshairs of a sniper (466 Smith). Rabin accused Netanyahu of provoking violence, a charge which Netanyahu strongly rebuffed (466 Smith).
The assassin was Yigal Amir, a former Hesder student and Orthodox far-right law student at Bar-Ilan University. Amir had strenuously opposed Rabin's peace initiative and especially 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.” (Smith 458) Amir had come to believe that Rabin was a din rodef, meaning a ‘pursuer’ who endangered Jewish lives. The concept of din rodef was not a part of traditional Jewish law and had been resurrected by ultra-orthodox rabbis from Brooklyn and the settlements. Under din rodef, Amir would be justified in removing Rabin from being a threat to Jews in the territories (Smith 468).
He was immediately subdued by Rabin's bodyguards and arrested with the murder weapon, a Beretta 84F .380 ACP caliber semi-automatic pistol. He also shot and slightly wounded Yoram Rubin, a security guard, with a third bullet that missed Rabin. Incidentally, Rubin was also a geography student at Bar-Ilan University at the time.
Rabin was quickly loaded into an ambulance and rushed to Ichilov Hospital at the Tel Aviv 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 defence Yitzhak Rabin, who was murdered by an assassin, tonight in Tel Aviv. May his memory be blessed."
In Rabin's pocket was a blood-stained sheet of paper with the words of the song Shir Lashalom ("Song to Peace"), which ironically dwells on the impossibility of bringing a dead person back to life and therefore the need for peace.
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.
The funeral of Rabin took place on November 6, the day 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. 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, President of the United States Bill Clinton, King Hussein of Jordan, Rabin's granddaughter Noa Ben-Artzi Filosof, former director-general of the prime minister's office Shimon Sheves, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, director of the Prime Minister's Bureau Eitan Haber, and President of Israel Ezer Weizman.
Yigal Amir's act was and to some extent still is a great source of embarrassment to the religious Jewish community, initially leading to a wave of soul-searching and denial (such as through the Yitzhak Rabin assassination conspiracy theories).
A national memorial day for Rabin is set on the date of his death according to the Hebrew calendar.
Rabin’s assassination had a debilitating effect on future prospects for Israeli and Palestinian leadership to come together and implement a series of steps to achieve an agreeable permanent status agreement. The assassination signaled that Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories had become, as it remains to be today, an explosive point of issue. The lasting influence of Rabin’s death are surmised by author Charles D. Smith: “The specter of future assassination or civil war in Israel if many settlements were removed appears to have encouraged Israeli prime ministers such as Ehud Barak to back settlement expansion while declaring their eagerness for peace with the Palestinians, and to have led U.S. negotiators to tolerate such developments for the sake of Israel’s domestic political stability while aware of their negative impact on the peace process itself.” (450 Smith)
Additionally, the assassination heightened tension between the Labor and Likud parties to an unprecedented level. The emotionally-charged climate, still simmering a year after Rabin’s death, was evidenced by Netanyahu’s refusal to declare the day Rabin was assassinated a national day of mourning, as well as Rabin’s widow’s subsequent refusal to let Netanyahu speak at a memorial ceremony for her husband (466 Smith).
The political consequences that unfolded as a result of Rabin’s passing ultimately derailed the Oslo peace process, and stalled prospects for another means to achieve a peace for some time. Upon Rabin’s death, Shimon Peres succeeded him as prime minister. Peres almost immediately made good on several key promises made by the Israeli government at the Oslo Accords. Smith writes, “Israeli forces withdrew from the six major population centers in Area A and from over 400 villages of Area B by the end of 1995. Elections for the Palestinian self-governing authority were held on January 20, 1996, thus completing the procedures first outlined in the 1993 Declaration of Principles.” (469 Smith) Peres then promptly called for early elections, moving them from November to late May, to gain a mandate to push forward with the peace process. Although initially leading in the polls, events such as the killing of Yahya Ayyash and the subsequent violence proved to be Peres’ downfall. Netanyahu was elected to office in June 1996 and, as a long-time opponent of the Oslo peace process, he sought to inhibit its implementation once he was made head of the Israeli government.
Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin took place on 4 November 1995 at 21:30, at the end of a rally in support of the Oslo agreements at the Kings of Israel Square in Tel Aviv.
In the verdict, the judges wrote:
Every murder is an abominable act, but the act before us is more abominable seven-fold, because not only has the accused not expressed regret or sorrow, but he also seeks to show that he is at peace with himself over the act that he perpetrated. He who so calmly cuts short another's life, only proves the depth of wretchedness to which [his] values have fallen, and thus he does not merit any regard whatsoever, except pity, because he has lost his humanity.
Rabin was rushed to the Ichilov Hospital, where he died from his wounds after 40 minutes. Rabin's bureau chief, Eitan Haber, announced outside the gates of the hospital: