The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin

On November 4th, 1995, the Middle East peace process came to an abrupt halt when Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated. Rabin had just finished speaking at a peace rally in Tel Aviv when he was gunned down by a right-wing Jewish extremist. 25-year-old Yigal Amir wanted to stop the peace deal signed two years earlier by Rabin and the leader of the PLO.

US President Bill Clinton looks on as Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat shake hands after a signing ceremony at the White House

The landmark agreement gave the Palestinians limited self-rule in the occupied territories and set up the Palestinian Authority. In return PLO leader Yasser Arafat pledged to condemn violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist. By 1999, the two sides were to have negotiated a final peace deal.

The accord upset Arab hardliners and prompted an unprecedented wave of terrorist attacks by Palestinian groups like Hamas which were against the deal.  But to the surprise of some – it also upset militant Jewish Settlers- they did not – under any circumstances want to turn over the occupied settlements.

In his final speech Rabin told the crowd that during his time as a military man he fought all the time and there was no chance for peace. But he believed now there was a chance for peace and Israelis must take advantage of it.

Rabin speech
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin speaking at a Tel Aviv peace rally shortly before he was killed.


When Rabin finished his speech, he walked down some stairs at the side of the stage.  As he walked to his car, Yigal Amir stepped from a crowd of drivers and body guards and shot Rabin two times.

The assassination was captured on video by someone in the crowd and was eventually sold to the media.

Rabin was rushed to the hospital but died on the operating table.  Amir was arrested at the scene and told police he acted on God’s orders when he shot Rabin. When Amir went on trial he claimed that he did not mean to kill Rabin.  He said he was only trying to injure him in an effort to stop the peace process from moving forward.  The jury did not believe Amir and found him guilty of premeditated murder.  He was sentenced to life in prison.

Amir in 2004
Yigal Amir at a court appearance in 2004.  He was convicted in the murder of Rabin and sentenced to life in prison.




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