Ten years after Rabin’s assassination, the case for conspiracy is reopened
As the 10th anniversary memorial ceremonies for the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin go into high gear, more people are asking how a lone killer, the ultranationalist Yigael Amir, was able to get close enough to the heavily-guarded prime minister to shoot him in the back as he left a Tel Aviv peace rally. And if there was a conspiracy, what was the motive behind it?
Unlike the Kennedy assassination in 1963, where the murderer and his murderer died before they could speak, so generating an industry of myth and speculation, Rabin’s killer survived to face justice. Yet unresolved doubts keep on surfacing.
Addressing the private memorial ceremony at his graveside Thursday, Nov. 3, Rabin’s daughter Dahlia Rabin-Pelosof said: “He was ahead of his time.”
But she has made no secret of the fact that the Rabin family has more than one unanswered question about the circumstances of the tragedy.
In the intervening 10 years, others have joined her in refusing to be satisfied with simplistically blaming “right wing extremists” and an alleged ambience conducive to violence.
This campaign has been refueled by the anniversary events. Two weeks before the 10th anniversary of Rabin’s death, several media reported that Amir, who is serving a life sentence without parole, is thinking of applying for a new trial because fresh evidence has come to light.
Amir, who never went back on his confession to the murder, has not confirmed this.
The spreading skepticism about the obvious answers persuaded Dror Yitzhaki, the former head of the Shin Beit internal security services’ bodyguard detail on duty at the time, to break the long silence he maintained from the time of his resignation. In a television interview Friday, Nov. 4, he called for a new inquiry into the unexplained intelligence and security failures leading up to the murder. He did not question Amir’s culpability, but said he was baffled by some of the circumstances.
1. His men had been drilled to be sure that in all circumstances, they would fire “the first and second bullets” – and no one else. Yet the assassin was able to shoot twice and the bodyguards held their fire. Someone was heard shouting three times “They’re blanks!” That someone was never found.
2. Amir was not the only trespasser to encroach on the “sterile” zone around the prime minister; just overhead, a cameraman had taken up position on a balcony well within marksman’s range. No one interfered when he filmed the crime from start to finish.
3. If there was indeed a third hole or tear in Rabin’s shirt, as has been claimed recently, Yitzhaki asserted it could not have been caused by the killer who fired twice, but only by a member of the security detail.
4. Before the Rabin assassination, Yitzhaki questioned the use of Shin Beit agents as plants to bring right-wing circles into public odium. In particular, he asked about the role played by Avishai Raviv, code-named Champagne, who established a close relationship with Yigael Amir. He was told in the Shin Beit not to worry, “He is one of ours.”
5. But then, a phony secret sect called Eyal was set up by Raviv so that its members could be shown on television at a fascist-style swearing-in ceremony. Wearing masks, they vowed in chorus to go to go all the way, including laying down their lives, for the cause. Yitzhaki asked what that was about and was told “They are all ours.”
Yitzhaki told the television interviewer he was horrified to discover the masked men were Shin Beit agents. This was before the assassination and he could not understand what was going on.
6. He also disclosed that Agent Raviv was present at the peace rally, the scene of Rabin’s death. This was not generally known before. It meant that a Shin Beit operative who was well acquainted with Amir was on the spot and could have identified him in time to prevent the killing.
7. After the murder, an inquiry commission headed by the former supreme court president was set up to get to the bottom of the crime. Yitzhaki was told by a “senior judicial source” that the commission was cautioned not to bare all the facts but rather to hold them back.
8. The former bodyguard said he had repeatedly told the former Shin Beit chief and other senior officers that a thorough internal debate was needed to once and for all establish to the satisfaction of the organization how the tragedy could have happened and clear away the mysteries. He never received a reply. Now he is proposing another state inquiry – this time to get to the bottom of the truth.