November 4, 1995
Web posted at: 6:25 p.m. EST (2325 GMT)
TEL AVIV, Israel (CNN) -- Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated at a peace rally Saturday night in Tel Aviv's Kings Square, a top aide confirmed. He was reportedly shot in the arm and back by a Jewish man in his mid-20s who is allegedly affiliated with right-wing extremist groups.
Rabin was walking to his car after the rally when he was shot. The 73-year-old prime minister later died in surgery at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv.
The gunman has been identified as Yigal Amir, a law student at Bar Ilan University who had been involved in right-wing causes, Israel television reported. It said Amir, a resident of the central town of Herzeliya, had connections to the far-right group Eyal. Israeli television said police arrested Amir after the shooting. (376K QuickTime movie)
Amir confessed to the assassination and reportedly told investigators, "I acted alone on God's orders and I have no regrets."
A senior aide said that Foreign Minister Shimon Peres will assume the role of acting prime minister.
At a press conference in Tel Aviv late Saturday, Peres called on the divided country to unite. He referred to his friend Rabin as his comrade, not in arms, but in hope.
He said the peace process was not one between two men, Rabin and Arafat, but a peace between two nations. When he was asked about the identity of the man who allegedly shot Rabin, Peres said, "The killer is a killer. We are not a nation of killers. It's not the violence that frightens me, it's the fear of violence." But, he added, Rabin was not afraid.
Peres was with Rabin at the hospital. Witnesses said that Peres kissed the prime minister on the forehead as he died.
An emergency cabinet meeting was called in Tel Aviv. Grim-faced, the members of the cabinet left the hospital where Rabin died and headed for the meeting, where a memorial took place.
Rabin will be buried Monday afternoon, Israel's radio reported. The radio also said that despite the Jewish custom of burying the dead within one day, Rabin's funeral has been delayed for an extra day to allow world leaders to attend. The burial location has not been announced.
In a Rose Garden appearance at the White House at 5:50 p.m. EDT, an emotional President Clinton said that the world has lost one of it's greatest leaders. He called Rabin a "martyr for his nation's peace." The president said he sent his love to Rabin's family and said, "Now the peace process belongs to us."
The president was informed of Rabin's death by National Security Adviser Anthony Lake.
PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat said he was "very sad and very shocked for this awful and terrible crime." (256K AIFF sound or 256K WAV sound) "He is one of the brave leaders of Israel and the peacemakers," Arafat said. "I hope that we will have the ability, the Israelis and Palestinians, to overcome this tragedy. I offer my condolences to his wife, his family, the Israeli government and the Israeli people."
Secretary of State Warren Christopher issued a statement Saturday. He said that "history will record Prime Minister Rabin as one of the towering figures of the century."
"Israel has lost one of it's finest sons, and we have lost a strong and true friend of the United States," Christopher said.
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