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November 29, 2021

The Murder of Yitzhak Rabin : A Case Study

The 1995 murder of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was a world shaking event, one that would have repercussions for years to come.


The 1995 murder of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was a world shaking event, one that would have repercussions for years to come. The assassination itself was the culmination of anger towards Rabin for his policies and peace initiatives– a reaction by a far-right actor in the midst of political upset. Though this event took place over 20 years ago, the conditions that eventually led to it remain as present as ever. Today, this tragic event serves as a case study for security personnel to consider. Could things have turned out differently had Rabin had a better safety net in place ? It’s time we consider all this and more.

The Basics
By 1992, Yitzhak Rabin already had a storied career in Israel. He spent 27 years as a soldier before moving into politics, serving as an ambassador, the minister of defense, and the prime minister before a final re-election to the office. This re-election was based on a platform of peace, with Rabin promising to embrace the Israeli-Palestine peace process. By 1994, Rabin had been so successful in this and other efforts that he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with two other leaders. His work, however, was not universally loved. Some members of the public believed these moves towards peace were a forfeiture to enemies who would seek to undermine and hurt Israel. Eventually, this tension came to ahead, and on November 4th a right-wing law student named Yigal Amir fatally shot Rabin as he walked to his car.

Security in Place
Being a high-profile politician, Rabin had a security team in place. The problems however, arose when Rabin himself refused to follow the advice of said team, seeing extra protection measures as an admission of fear. On the day of his assassination, Rabin had been attending a pro-peace rally in Tel Aviv. This rally was in response to right-wing rallies specifically in protest of Rabin and his policies. The rallies had escalated to the point of mock-funerals for the politician, with protestors carrying nooses and chanting “death to Rabin.” Rabin’s chief of internal security took these threats seriously, treating them as a plot against the Prime Minister’s life. When Rabin was implored by the chief to take more precautionary measures, such as wearing a bullet proof vest and riding in armored cars, he refused. This refusal would end up costing him his life when he was shot twice by his assassin. In the ensuring hysteria, Amir was subdued by Rabin’s bodyguards, before they rushed him into a vehicle to be taken to the hospital. However, one of the bodyguards became disoriented by the frantic crowds, resorting to asking police for help to guide him to the location. The ensuring delay led to Rabin bleeding out before the wounds could be treated.

What Can We Learn
This case presents an interesting problem for modern security officers. What can be done when a client needs a certain level of protection, but refuses? There are many arguments to be made here for the best course of action, but the truth of the matter comes down to personal freedom. In the end, Rabin made his decision, and though it was fatal, his security detail did what they could within their jurisdiction. However, an open dialogue between guard and client is only ever beneficial, and one can only wonder if longer conversations about the pros and cons of greater protection would have done in this case.

The other upset in this case has to do with the bodyguard who became disoriented in the crowd and slowed the drive to the hospital. Although we can never truly predict our reaction in an intense
situation, this example only clearly reinforces the need for drills and real-life scenario training for every security officer. In the moment, reaction time is everything, and people in this profession simply cannot risk a delay. Although this guard is not to blame for the actual death of Rabin, which lies with the assassin, there will always be a question about whether or not the Prime Minister would have survived had his team been more organized.

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