Ten years after Rabin assassination, top bodyguard calls for new inquiry on killing

On the 10-year anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the official who was responsible for the Israeli leader's security is calling for a new investigation into the killing.

Dror Yitzhaki, who headed the Shin Bet internal security services' bodyguard unit at the time of the assassination, brushed off conspiracy theories that the ultranationalist killer, Yigal Amir, was not the lone gunman. But his call for a new inquiry will almost certainly fuel far-right activists who have long called for another investigation.

Amir fired the three shots that killed Rabin on Nov. 4, 1995 after the Nobel Peace Prize laureate attended a peace rally in Tel Aviv. Amir was sentenced to life in prison and has become an icon for some hardline Israelis who oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state on land Israel has occupied since the 1967 Mideast war. Excerpts from Yitzhaki's first interview since the assassination were broadcast Thursday on Israeli TV Channel Two. The full interview is to be broadcast later Friday.

Yitzhaki, who resigned after the assassination, said he took responsibility for the failure of his bodyguards to prevent the killing, including "the activity of the security guards who had been trained for years ... that the second bullet _ if not the first _ would be theirs."

The bodyguards did not fire a single shot, and Amir was arrested on the spot. Yet, five months before the assassination, a sergeant from the army's intelligence unit overheard a conversation in a public restroom about a "little Yemenite guy" who had a handgun and had serious intentions to kill Rabin, but that information was never passed along, Yitzhaki said. Amir's family immigrated from Yemen. Ten years after the assassination, Israelis no longer assume that only Arabs, their traditional foes, would be the perpetrators of an attack on their leader. But footage broadcast for the first time Thursday on Channel Two is evidence of how deep misconceptions ran at the time of Rabin's assassination.

The footage from a training exercise conducted a year before the assassination showed Rabin himself driving a burgundy van when two truckloads of "Palestinians" with assault rifles ambushed the vehicle. The disguised combatants from the Shin Bet security service could easily have assassinated the Israeli leader, and the training exercise never took into account that such an attack would come from an Israeli.

In the run-up to Israel's September withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was surrounded at times by three tight rings of security guards, even when walking through the corridors of parliament _ considered to be one of the most secure buildings in the country.

The assumption was that an assassination would most likely come from Israel's ultranationalist wing, which strongly opposed the pullout, AP reports.


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