TEL AVIV (November 5) – Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated Saturday night by a 27-year-old Herzliya law student, who fired three bullets from a pistol at him at point-blank range. Rabin was felled as he was entering his official car at 9:50 p.m. at the conclusion of a massive pro-peace rally in Tel Aviv's Kikar Malchei Yisrael attended by some 100,000 people.
[In the San Francisco Bay Area, memorial services were scheduled for :
7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 5, at Temple Sinai in Oakland,
Noon, Monday, Nov. 6, at Stanford University Hillel,
6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 6 in Rodef Shalom in Marin, and
8 p.m. Monday at Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco.
For more specific information and news of additional services, call the Jewish Community Relations Council on Monday at (415) 957-1551.]
Rabin was pronounced dead at 11:15 p.m. Saturday by doctors at Ichilov Hospital, where he had been brought with wounds to his back, abdomen, and chest. He died on the operating table from massive hemorrhaging and heart failure, without regaining consciousness.
The prime minister was not wearing a bullet-proof vest, security sources said.
"The government of Israel announces with astonishment and deep sorrow the death of Prime Minister and Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was murdered by an assassin tonight in Tel Aviv," senior aide Eitan Haber announced outside Ichilov.
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, who now serves as acting prime minister, convened the cabinet in Tel Aviv Saturday night in a special session. President Ezer Weizman, who arrived at the hospital at midnight with U.S. Ambassador Martin Indyk, will now consult with Peres on the formation of a new government.
Environment Minister Yossi Sarid vowed the government would carry on Rabin's peace policies.
The funeral is to be on Monday. U.S. President Bill Clinton, who announced Rabin's death to the U.S. with the Hebrew words, "Shalom haver (goodbye friend)," told Leah Rabin on the phone last night that he plans to attend. He was to be joined by California Sen. Barbara Boxer. CNN reported that King Hussein will also attend the funeral.
The assassin, Yigal Amir, a law student at Bar-Ilan University, ran towards Rabin and fired as the premier was getting into his limousine. Amir told interrogators at Hayarkon police station that he "did not regret his deed," which he said was "planned for some time."
A police source said that Amir had twice before attempted to assassinate Rabin, but no more details were available. In the two previous attempts, said the source, Amir tried to get close to the prime minister and was armed both times.
Amir was apprehended immediately after the shooting by police and pressed up against a cement wall, as dozens of policemen surrounded him.
Eyewitnesses reported seeing Rabin collapse. His bodyguards pushed him into the car and whisked him off to Ichilov Hospital, some 500 meters away. One of Rabin's bodyguards was also wounded by bullets.
Health Minister Ephraim Sneh told reporters at midnight that Rabin sustained bullet wounds in the spinal cord, spleen, and chest.
"Rabin arrived at the hospital with no blood pressure and no pulse," Sneh said.
The prime minister's wife, Leah, was alongside her husband when the shooting took place, but was not hurt.
An unknown organization called Ayin — the Hebrew acronym for Avenging Jewish Organization — took the credit for the assassination. The statement was sent to reporters' beepers and was accompanied by a phone number which reporters were told not to call.
Hundreds of demonstrators rushed from Kikar Malchei Yisrael to Ichilov as the news of the shooting circulated. Two cars carrying Likud banners sped by with people chanting from inside, "Rabin is dead," while Rabin was still on the operating table.
Rabin had given a moving speech at the rally. His last words to the crowd were: "I was a military man for 27 years. I waged war as long as there was no chance for peace. I believe there is now a chance for peace, a great chance, and we must take advantage of it for those standing here, and for those who are not here — and they are many. I have always believed that the majority of the people want peace and are ready to take a chance for peace."