Yitzhak Rabin (March 1, 1922-November 4, 1995) was an Israeli politician and military general. He was the fifth Prime Minister of Israel from 1974 until 1977 and again from 1992 until his assassination in 1995. He was the first Israeli-born Prime Minister of Israel, the only Prime Minister to be assassinated and the second to die in office. Levi Eshkol was the first Prime Minister to die in office.
Youth and Palmach Rabin was born in Jerusalem in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine. He grew up in Tel Aviv, where his family moved when he was one year old, and in 1940 he graduated with distinction from the Kadoori Agricultural High School . His matriculation was his last formal education, with the exception of some military strategy courses which he later took in the United Kingdom. He aspired to become a irrigation engineer.
In 1941, during his practical training at Kibbutz Ramat Yochanan , Rabin joined the Palmach section of the Haganah, rising to the position of Chief Operations Officer in October 1947.
During the Israeli War of Independence, he directed the defence of Jerusalem and fought the Egyptian army in the Negev. In 1962 he rose to the position of Chief of Staff in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
Under his command, the IDF achieved an overwhelming victory over Egypt, Syria and Jordan in the Six Day War. After the Old City of Jerusalem was captured by the IDF, Rabin was among the first to visit the old city, and then delivered a famous speech on the top of Mount Scopus at the Hebrew University.
Ambassador and Minister of Labor
Following his retirement from the IDF, he became a diplomat, serving as ambassador to the United States beginning in 1968. In 1973, he was elected to the Knesset as a member of the Labor Party, and was appointed Minister of Labor.
First term as prime minister
In 1974, he was elected Party leader and succeeded Golda Meir as Prime Minister of Israel.
This term in office was most famous for Operation Entebbe, in which, on his orders, the IDF rescued passengers of a plane hijacked as it left Israel. Rabin resigned from office after two crises hit him: the arrival of four F-15 jets on Sabbath led to the breaking up of his coalition; and the exposure of an illegal dollar fund held by his wife, Leah Rabin. Rabin took responsibility on his wife’s account and resigned from office.
Opposition member and minister of defence
Following his resignation, Likud’s Menachem Begin was elected in 1977. Rabin was later hailed by many commentators for his resignation, who said that this was a sign of integrity and responsibility.
During the late 1980′s Rabin was a Minister of Defence in several unity governments and enacted harsh measures to break the first Intifada. He was quoted as saying ‘We should break their hands and legs’ (referring to Palestinian rioters).
Second term as prime minister
In 1992 he was once again successfully elected Prime Minister. He played a leading role in the signing of the Oslo peace accords, which created the Palestinian Authority and granted it partial control over parts of the Gaza Strip and West Bank. During this term of office, Rabin also oversaw the signing of a peace accord with Jordan.
For his role in the creation of the Oslo Accords, Rabin was awarded the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize, along with Yasser Arafat and Shimon Peres. The Accords greatly polarized his image in Israeli society, some seeing him as a hero for advancing the cause of peace and some seeing him as a traitor for giving away land they saw as rightfully belonging to Israel. Also, Rabin’s government was kept in office with the (somewhat concealed) assistance of Arab-Israeli parties in the Knesset.
Assassination and Memory
On November 4, 1995, Rabin was shot by the extreme right-wing activist Yigal Amir, after attending a peace rally in Tel Aviv’s Kings of Israel Square (which is now the Yitzhak Rabin Square). Fatally wounded, he died on the operating table at the nearby Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv.
A national memorial day for Rabin is set on the murder date, and the square in which he was murdered was named after him.