On this day: Yitzhak Rabin is assassinated

November 4 1995: fifteen years ago a right-wing fanatic kills a prime minister.


What was supposed be an event celebrating peace ended as one mourning a tragedy.

More 300,000 people had gathered that night in a square in Tel Aviv for a peace concert, hopeful that the Oslo accords signed by Mr Rabin and PLO chairman Yasir Arafat in 1993, would finally bring an end to the Middle East conflict.

It was not to be. Yigal Amir, an extremist Orthodox Jewish man, shot Mr Rabin as he was leaving the square. Amir is now serving a life sentence for the murder.

The murder was just a year after Mr Rabin shook hands with King Hussein of Jordan to mark the historic Israel-Jordan peace treaty, and after he shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Shimon Peres and Yasir Arafat

Born in Jerusalem during the British Mandate of Palestine, his parents had come to Israel on the Third Aliyah. He studied briefly in the UK, and joined the Palmach military group in 1941, overseeing the secret immigration of Jewish refugees from internment camps into Palestine.

Married to a reporter called Leah, by 1947 he was the Palmach’s chief of operations, going on to direct Israeli forces during the 1948 war of independence.

Mr Rabin, the IDF chief of staff during the Six Day War, served two terms as prime minister, in the 1970s and the 1990s. After the Yom Kippur War of 1973, he told the JC: “Since the Arab-Israeli conflict has become so entangled with the Soviet-American conflict there can be no clear demarcation between the two.

The first Israeli prime minister to be born in the country, and at the time the youngest yet, he was the only to be killed while in office. He is remembered today as one of the great statesmen of Israeli history.

At an event to mark the Hebrew anniversary of his death last month, Israel's defence minister Ehud Barak said: "Yitzhak Rabin was a real fighter and a man of peace. We have not forgotten him for a single moment.”

What the JC said: The life and career of Yitzhak Rabin, Israel’s premier, assassinated last Saturday night at the end of a peace rally, were endowed with an almost Shakespearean quality. From the earliest days, when he planned to be a farmer, to his daring feats and single-mindedness as a military leader and politician, he displayed the courage and spirit of a tragic hero

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Last updated: 9:24am, November 4 2010