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By David Guyatt

 Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzak Rabin left King's of Israel Square in Tel Aviv closely trailed by his two Shabak - secret service - bodyguards.  Seconds later shots rang out and Rabin slumped to the ground.  Chaos erupted and within minutes Rabin had been carried to his bombproof Limousine and rushed to Ichilov Hospital.  He died half an hour later, the victim of Israel's first presidential assassination.  The date was 4 November 1995.  Paradoxically, Rabin had been attending a "peace rally" just moments before he was shot.

 Officially, Rabin's murder was a cut and dried affair.  Right leaning religious zealot, Yigal Amir, was caught in the act of killing Rabin.  He was arrested and later convicted.  An amateur cameraman, Ronnie Kempler, later released video footage he had taken from a nearby rooftop, showing Amir shooting Rabin in the back.  This film was broadcast around the world, leaving little room for doubt that Amir was guilty.

 Surprisingly, however, doubts did arise - and quickly.  Just a week after Rabin's death Professor Michael Hersiger, a historian at Tel Aviv University told the press "in my opinion there was a conspiracy."  Hersiger went on to say he believed the conspiracy involved the Shabak, Israel's General Security Services - responsible for internal security - because of the odd connections Shabak had with Yigal Amir, the accused killer.  At that time, little was publicly known about Amir except that he was deeply involved in "Eyal," a right-wing religious organisation with a political agenda.  Eyal vehemently opposed the peace process, which was the centrepiece of the Rabin administration. 

 Then on 16 November 1995, territorial leader and later member of the Knesset - Israel's Parliament - Benny Eilon, told a press conference that Shabak "founded and funded" Eyal.  He also later revealed in private that he had been warned ahead of time by former Mossad senior officer, Yitzhak Shamir, that "they" were planning to kill Rabin.  Eilon didn't say who "they" were but did add that Shamir knew of the conspiracy in October 1995, two months before it happened.  If that wasn't bad enough, the next evening Israeli television broadcast a report revealing that Avishai Raviv, the leader of "Eyal" was a long-term Shabak agent who operated under the codename "Champagne."  Raviv, it was later learned, was an expert at promoting "fifth columnists."

 This strange sequence of events led a few other Israeli's to begin investigating.  One of those was journalist Barry Chamish who subsequently authored a book titled "Who Murdered Yitzhak Rabin?"  In this, Chamish tears apart the carefully orchestrated official version of events revealing how clumsy the conspirators really were - and how confident they must have been that they would not be caught.  The facts he manages to pull together are startling.

 Numerous witnesses testified that as Amir shot at Rabin's unprotected back, many policemen and bodyguards shouted out "they're blanks."  The sound of the gun going off was closer to a "party popper" than a pistol firing, others reported.  This led a great many people to believe the shooting was a hoax rather than an assassination attempt.  One witness, Mirian Oren, told national TV ten minutes after the shooting that "Rabin wasn't hurt.  I saw him walk to the car." 

 Anyone looking at Ronnie Kempler's video film taken from a rooftop across the street, can see for themselves the very odd behaviour of Rabin's bodyguards.  As Rabin leaves the peace rally and heads for his car, he is closely shadowed by two Shabak bodyguards, stationed on each side and slightly behind him.  The one protecting Rabin's left flank, without warning stops, turns away, and folds his hands across his stomach.  He then remains immobile as Rabin, unaware of this, continues walking.  This curious conduct opens a large gap on Rabin's left rear side that allows Amir, who had remained stationery until that moment, to dart around and behind Rabin and shoot him in the back.  It is hard to conclude that this sequence of events was anything other than planned.  At the very least, the bodyguard is guilty of gross incompetence and failed to protect his "client" at the most critical moment of his life.

 The film footage also shows that Amir got no closer than two or three feet before firing the first shot.  The second shot - heard but not seen in the video footage - was even further away, according to a variety of witnesses, including Amir.  Rabin's jacket, shirt and undershirt were later examined by Baruch Gladstein, a highly respected forensic expert from Israel's Police Materials and Fibers Laboratory.  Gladstein appeared as an expert witness at Amir's trial and was emphatic when he stated that of one of the two shots was fired from a distance no greater than 25cm.  The other shot was fired from "point blank range" - in other words, the barrel of the gun was pressed against Rabin when it was fired.  This evidence means that Amir did not fire the two bullets.  So what happened?

 Immediately following the assassination attempt, Rabin was bundled into his Limousine and the driver, Menachem Damti raced the 700 metres to Ichilov Hospital.  At least he would have raced had he not got lost.  Damti, a last minute replacement for Rabin's scheduled driver, was one of the most experienced drivers in Shabak.  He had almost 25 years experience and knew the streets of Tel Aviv like the back of his hand.  Ordinarily, he would have covered the distance to the hospital in just over one minute.  This night, however, when the streets were virtually traffic free, the trip took eight and a half minutes.  Damti's explanation that he got lost bears little weight in the minds of many observers.

 Of critical importance are the number of wounds sustained by Rabin, and their location.  The official position is that Rabin was shot twice, both to the back.  This conforms to the two shots fired by Amir and his known position behind Rabin - facts that were upheld during Amir's own trial and the government sponsored Shamgar Commission that investigated the assassination.  However, this does not tally with the evidence.  When Rabin arrived at the hospital, he had been undressed and was bleeding from the chest, according to Yevgeny Furman, a patient present at Ichilov Hospital.  Yet, it is impossible for Amir to have shot Rabin anywhere but the back.

 More significant still, is the hand-written autopsy report prepared by Mordecai Gutman, the surgeon who operated on Rabin.  This records that there were three wounds not two.  Two of these were to the back and one to the chest.  The latter was described by Dr. Gutman as "bullet wound in upper lung lobe of 2.5-3cm.  Exit wound in direction of D5-6 with a shattering of vertebrae."  This was the fatal shot, according to the doctor.  Gutman's report single-handedly shreds the official cover story to pieces.

 During the first few hours after Rabin's assassination, there was no doubt about the number of bullet wounds and location, moreover.  For example, the director of the Ichilov Hospital, Dr. Gabi Barabash, announced to the media "The Prime Minister arrived at the hospital without pulse or heartbeat.  He was clinically dead.  We succeeded in reviving him and transfused 21 units of blood but the wounds were too severe and he succumbed to them."  A TV reporter asked him "What were the wounds?"  Dr. Barabash replied: "There was a wound to the spleen and a gaping hole in the chest leading to the backbone…" 

 Health Minister Ephraim Sneh appeared on television an hour later, at 12.30a.m., to announce Rabin's death to the nation.  Sneh said: "As a result of incitement, Prime Minister Rabin died tonight… He took three bullets, one in the chest, one in the stomach and one in the spine."  Both these statements were soon to be forgotten as Shabak hurriedly sought to alter reality and pin the blame on self-confessed killer Yigal Amir.  Many now believe that Amir was either under duress or, otherwise, temporarily mentally unbalanced to confess to Rabin's murder.

 Of significance to this whole story is the forensic testimony of Baruch Gladstein mentioned earlier.  His examination of Rabin's clothes showed no evidence of a chest shot at all.  However, we now know that by the time Rabin arrived at the hospital, his clothes had conveniently been removed.  Some investigators now believe that Rabin was shot in the car during the eight and a half-minute journey to Ichilov Hospital?  Weight is added to this explanation when recalling that Rabin needed 21 units of blood transfused, as explained by Ichilov's Dr. Barabash.  Obviously, the Prime Minister was bleeding profusely yet there was not one drop of blood found in King's of Israel Square, where he had allegedly been shot.  Since the Limousine he had been driven in was not subjected to any examination, forensic or otherwise, it is not possible to establish whether blood was present there.

 Yet, there are even more significant oddities.  For example, two entirely different Pathologists claim they removed the bullets from Rabin's body.  Dr. Hiss says he removed the bullets and put them in a safe.  In stark contrast, Dr. Kluger testified that he removed the bullets from Rabin.  Meanwhile, there are two different versions regarding who took possession of the bullets after they had been removed from the corpse.  Dr. Hiss told the court at Amir's trial that "A policeman took the bullets I removed from Rabin and transferred them to the police laboratory the next day."  Asked to identify the policeman, the Pathologist couldn't: "I don't know his name and I don't recall what he looked like."  However, Yoram Rubin, one of Rabin's bodyguards, testified that the bullets and Rabin's clothes were "taken by Yuval Schwartz, a friend of mine from work."  In other words, Shabak took possession of the bullets not the police.

 This conflicting testimony should have caused some difficulty for Police ballistic expert Bernard Schechter, who testified that the bullets matched Amir's gun.  The only problem is that there is clearly no chain of evidence regarding the bullets and, therefore, no way of knowing that the ones Schechter tested were the ones used.  There were even two different calibre bullets involved, according to one intriguing account.

 A Tel Aviv taxi driver submitted a report to the Supreme Court of Israel in early June 1996.  In this, the cabby stated on 27 March 1996, when the verdict in Amir's trial was announced over his car radio, he was carrying a passenger.  On hearing the verdict, the passenger said that Amir didn't kill Rabin.  The cab driver asked him what he meant and got the reply that Rabin was shot three times and that one of those was with a different calibre bullet to the other two.  The cab driver argued, saying these facts weren't published anywhere and that he didn't believe him.  The passenger produced an identity card showing he was a pathologist and said he had examined Rabin's body the night he was murdered.  He added that the government wasn't telling the whole story. 

 The tax driver's report was never published.

 The JFK similarity 

Similarities between President Kennedy's assassination and that of Yitzak Rabin are marked.  For example, Lee Harvey Oswald, now known to be an intelligence officer, flew to Russia and was stationed in Minsk.  He returned, became an activist in a CIA front - The Fair Play for Cuba Committee - and is then convicted for having shot Kennedy.  Yigal Amir was sent to Riga in the Soviet Union by an intelligence branch of the Prime Ministers Office.  When he returned he became an activist for the Shabak front, Eyal, before being convicted for shooting Rabin.  Oswald was close to CIA operative, Guy Bannister, whereas Amir was close to Shabak agent Avishai Raviv.  Oswald appeared on television favouring Cuba and communism, a controversial position that made him recognisable as an eccentric.  Amir was caught on television objecting at a peace rally and was dragged away kicking and screaming.  Likewise there are remaining questions about the bullets that are said to have killed Kennedy as there are for those that are alleged to have killed Rabin.

  Shabak's Contingency Plan 

Shabak chief, Carmi Gillon explained that their failure to protect Rabin that evening was because they had no "contingency plan" to protect the head of state against a lone-gunman.  However, two former commanding officers of Shabak's "personal security unit" say otherwise.  Tuvia Livneh and Yisrael Shai say Rabin wouldn't have been murdered had they been on duty that night.  They claim there was a contingency plan and that it had been practised endless times.  This included dry runs at the Kings of Israel Square.  These exercises covered the possibility that an assassin would attack from the sterile area located at the bottom of the exit stairs behind the stage - the precise spot Amir struck from.  The two former bodyguards are amazed that Amir remained alive, as their plans called for the assassin to be shot after he fired his gun.  This would avoid him getting off a second shot.  This is standard practise they claim, and point to the assassination attempts on Ronald Reagan and Egypt's, Anwar Sadat, where bodyguards instantly shot the attackers. 

 The rear door of the Limousine 

Just before Rabin is thrust into the bullet-proof Limousine for the trip to Ichilov Hospital, video footage shows the rear offside door being closed from the inside.  Clearly, someone was already sitting in the back of the car.  This, however, conflicts with all the testimony given by Rabin's bodyguards at Amir's trial and during the Shamgar Commission.  In their testimony, no third party is present, but the video footage says otherwise.  This has given rise to speculation that Rabin's actual killer was already in the car and that following the blank shots fired by Amir, Rabin was shot in the back, twice and then in the chest.  This could account for the closeness of the first shot and the "contact" shot that Amir could not have fired.  Since neither killed Rabin outright, one of the others present used their own gun to finish him off.  This would also account for the two different calibre bullets mentioned by the unidentified pathologist.

 The Kempler Film: fact or fiction? 

The Kempler film that effectively convicted Amir in the eyes of the world was heavily and artfully tampered with.  This could not have happened accidentally.  Importantly, the video footage blurs at critical points making it impossible to follow the sequence of events.  Ronnie Kempler, when interviewed, was unable to adequately explain why this was.  Nor could he give an acceptable reason why he was permitted on the rooftop opposite Rabin's exit route.  The rooftop had police and security personnel stationed on it to ensure Rabin wasn't sniped at, but they simply ignored Kempler.  Nor could Kempler explain why he released the film after a delay of two months, when he could have sold it for millions within a few days of the assassination.  And why didn't he turn it over to the police as evidence?  Kempler also focused on Amir standing alone before the shooting.  Asked why he concentrated on the assassin to be, Kempler replied "I felt there was something suspicious about him."


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