Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin

Tragic Assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin

November 4, 1995 was one of the darkest days in Israel’s history. It was the day that Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in Tel Aviv by a fanatic, ultranationalist, 25-year-old Israeli student named Yigal Amir. Amir was convicted of the crime and is currently serving a life sentence in prison.

Rabin, a legendary figure in the formative years of Israel, was a former chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, leader of the Labor Party, Minister of Defense and a true statesman. He had just concluded participating in a huge peace rally in Tel Aviv’s Kings of Israel Square (now known as Rabin Square) when Amir walked up to him and fired three shots into his body at close range despite Rabin’s close security protection.

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin

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.

As news of the assassination spread, the nation went into deep mourning, accompanied not long after by anger at the lack of protection accorded to the prime minister.

The funeral of Rabin took place on Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem on November 6, two days after the assassination. Hundreds of world leaders, including many heads of state, attended the funeral, including  President of the US Bill Clinton, King Hussein of Jordan, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Spanish Prime Minister and European Council President- Felipe González, Prime Minister of Canada Jean Chrétien and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak

Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, later to become president of Israel, replaced Rabin as prime minister during a period of deep political division in the country. Peres ran for election in his own right in 1996, but lost in an extremely close race to the current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

A national memorial day for Rabin is observed each year on the date of his death, according to the Hebrew calendar. Over the years, many streets and roads and public buildings in Israel have been named to honor the memory of Yitzhak Rabin.