Photo: Flash90

Israel marks Rabin Memorial Day

A number of ceremonies were held across Israel today to mark the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Rabin was Israel’s fifth premier, who served two terms in office, 1974–77 and 1992 until his murder. He was shot dead in 1995 by Yigal Amir, who opposed the Rabin government’s Oslo Accords with the Palestinians. The Israeli Premier had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize the previous year, alongside then-Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and PLO leader Yasser Arafat. Amir is serving a life term in prison.

A state memorial service at President’s Residence in Jerusalem this morning was attended by several senior officials including Alternate Premier and Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

“The murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was a political assassination,” said President Reuven Rivlin during the ceremony, by a “despicable assassin.” Even though Rivlin, who belongs to the Likud party, said he had been on the “opposite side of the political debate” than Rabin’s Labor faction, he said, “most of us, convinced to the bone of the righteousness of our way, could not imagine for a moment the horror scenario we would come to in this ideological struggle.”

The Knesset convened for a special service, where lawmakers bowed their heads for one minute of silence in tribute of the fallen Israeli leader.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used his address in the plenum to condemn political incitement.

“As long as the social networks allow freedom of expression for those whose voices are silenced in the media, they make an important contribution to democracy,” said Netanyahu, “but even on social networks, we must make sure not to cross red lines, there must be no incitement to murder and violence from any side.”

The Israeli leader also said he and his family have been victims of “explicit incitement” calling for their assassinations.

IDF troops received a letter in tribute to Rabin from Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, who wrote that “turmoil and the sense of grief reached every house in the country following the murder.”

Defense Minister Gantz is slated to deliver a speech honoring Rabin at a memorial ceremony at the Menashe Regional Council this evening.

Several radio stations played patriotic and solemn music today, and a special “Remembering Through Song” program will be simultaneously on Army Radio and Ynet.

Memorials were significantly limited in size due to the coronavirus pandemic.