Report of Commission of Inquiry into Murder of Late PM Rabin

Report of Commission of Inquiry into Murder of Late PM Rabin


 YITZHAK RABIN: 1922-1995
  Summary of the Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Murder of the Late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin
March 28, 1996

  1. On 28.3.96 the Commission of Inquiry into the murder of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin submitted its final report to the Government. The Commission was appointed by the Government of Israel to investigate the events and determine "findings and conclusions regarding the intelligence and security preparations and everything related to VIP protection in general, and at the rally where the murder took place in particular."

  2. The Commission held 61 meetings, heard 72 witnesses whose testimony was documented in 6,385 pages of protocol and studied thousands of exhibits. During the course of its work, the Commission examined the system-wide handling (security and intelligence) of the threat of a Jewish assailant, the preparations of the General Security Service (GSS) and the police for the "Yes to Peace, Not to Violence" rally on 4.11.95, the functioning of theses bodies on 4.11.95 and the details of the murder itself, including steps taken immediately after the shooting and including the evacuation and the medical treatment.

  3. In reference to the system-wide framework, the Commission determined the following main conclusions:

    • The GSS had abundant information about the intensification of threats against the lives of prominent persons, first and foremost, the prime minister. The GSS did not do enough, in terms of adjusting its protection method to the new risks, to cope with the worsening threat, and did not ensure that its VIP bodyguards properly understood the severity of this threat.

    • The existing protection method was unreasonable and exposed the prime minister to serious risks. Moreover, while the intelligence assessment of the situation regarding an attack against the prime minister became increasingly more serious, neither the head of the GSS nor the division or unit heads held any serious discussion to reevaluate the method or adapt the protection method to the increasing risk; and in any case, no real changes were made in the protection method.

    • In the arguments made by those who received warnings and their representatives, an attempt was made to claim that the nature of government in Israel and the deep ties between leaders and the public at large prevented them from providing maximum protection to their charges. The Commission rejected this claim and determined: "The obstacle to implementing the improved method was not the result of the statesman's need to have effective contact with the public, but of conceptual routine."

    • The cooperation between the VIP protection unit and the Israel Police regarding planning security at the "Yes to Peace, No to Violence" rally and implementing it was lacking. As a result, security arrangements necessitated by the situation during the rally were not carried out.

    • There was insufficient flow of information between the GSS and the Israel Police regarding the threat of a Jewish assailant. This was a result of both the GSS's recoiling from distributing highly sensitive and classified information and the concern that unwise use of it may cause real damage and the Israel Police recoiling from handling intelligence material dealing with subversion and Jewish terrorism, and its belief that this subject is not among the matters it handles as far VIP protection is concerned.

  4. The Commission found that the planning of security for the rally at the end of which Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was murdered suffered from two basic planning defects:

    One is that the method was not adapted to meet the risks. The second is that even in light of the limitations of the protection method used on the night of the murder, the planning of the security of the rally was severely lacking; unfortunately, not enough appropriate attention was devoted to securing the parking lot where the late prime minster was murdered. This matter was not sufficiently clarified to the police, who were responsible for security at the rally.

    Spoken agreements formulated with the police were not written down, and after the fact different and conflicting versions were heard regarding the level of protection required in the parking lot by the GSS. There was improper assigning of the police forces designated to assist the VIP protection unit.

    Furthermore, the Commission found that the police planning regarding the security of the area where the VIPs were was faulty and did not suitably take into account the parking lot area. The commission also found other planning fault which had no direct bearing on the murder taking place.

  5. The commission further determined that even after the gaps in the planning were discovered during the rally, the police and GSS did not take the necessary steps to prevent the danger threatening the VIPs passing through the parking lot. The parking lot was inadequately cleared and the peripheral protection provided to the prime minister as he came down the steps did not suit the circumstances and did no respond to the threat.

  6. On 17.12.95 warnings were sent to seven officials in the GSS and Israel Police. The text of the warnings appears as Appendix A to the Commission's Report (p.209 of the report). The Commission reviewed the arguments of those who received warnings from it and who raised their arguments both orally and in writing. After considering the arguments, the Commission reached the following conclusions:

    1. Karmi Gillon - Head of the GSS

      1. The Commission reached the final conclusion that what was said in the warning sent to Mr. Gillon on 17.12.95 was proven, with the exception of one item referring to the failure to ensure distribution of intelligence and its being properly understood by the Israel Police. Regarding this matter, Karmi Gillon was not found to be responsible.

      2. The Commission found that starting in 1993, there were increasing reports of plans to assassinate the prime minster. Karmi Gillon and his subordinates knew that the assailant might be unknown and that there was a possibility that Intelligence would be unable to warn about him. Karmi Gillon reiterated that there was a possibility that sufficient intelligence warning would not be issued and that the solution to this was in VIP protection. However, he did not draw the operational conclusions necessitated by this.

      3. The commission found that despite these facts, which obligated constant reevaluation of the protection method and implementation of necessary changes corresponding to the danger, Karmi Gillon did not conduct even one substantive, relevant, thorough and comprehensive discussion with all the security and intelligence-gathering bodies to review the methods, despite the worsening assessments.

      4. The Commission found that the GSS head also did not personally inspect the method in the field in order to systematically assess how protection was planned and implemented.

      5. In his testimony, Karmi Gillon presented an organizational thesis whereby it is enough for him to outline goals and their order of priority, and to delegate authority; and from the moment he did that, responsibility and authority are transferred to his subordinates. Therefore, he thought it was sufficient to warn against the danger of a Jewish assailant and authorize the division heads subordinate to him to act accordingly. The Commission determined that the organization, alertness and readiness of a GSS unit dealing with the sensitive matter of protecting the prime minister is a matter in which the GSS head cannot divest himself of the responsibility for active supervision and monitoring.

      6. Furthermore, the Commission established that the danger, which materialized in the attack, was not adequately acknowledged. Only some of the bodyguards saw the threat of an assassination as a real possibility. Others' thoughts regarding the extreme right, focused more on the danger of stones or tomatoes being thrown.

        Karmi Gillon should have seen to planning operational and conceptual readiness that would create an appropriate level of preparedness in the bodyguard.

        Mr. Gillon resigned from his position during the course of the Commission's work. The Commission found that this action reflected its opinion and saw no need to make further recommendations regarding him.

    2. D.Y. - Head of the GSS Security Division

      1. The Commission reached the final conclusion that the details of the warning sent to D.Y. were proven.

      2. The Commission determined that in 1995, the year D.Y. began his position, there were increasing assessments regarding the personal risk to the prime minster from a Jewish assailant.

      3. According to the definition of the division's tasks, the head of the Security Division is also responsible for VIP protection. Among other things, he is also responsible for determining security doctrine, methods of operation and checking the effectiveness of the protection system.

      4. The Commission determined that the VIP Protection Unit's method of operation was a substantive issue requiring comprehensive, in-depth discussion and in the absence of an initiative by the GSS head to convene a discussion on the matter, the head of the Security Division was obligated, given his job definition, to request a broad and thorough operational analysis during which, among other things, the link between the nature of the risks and the kind of measures taken to counter them would be presented. The lack of such an initiative was a substantive flaw in the division head's functioning.

      5. The Commission established that the division head was responsible for conducting close supervision of the security plan for the rally. Many people and many protected VIPs attended the rally; it took place at a time of real risks of attack from extremist Arab terrorist organizations and of sharpened threats of an attack against the prime minister by a Jewish assailant. For such a sensitive event, it was necessary for the division head to thoroughly study the data and review the essential and key points of the planning, despite the unit head's approval of the plan.

      6. The Commission determined that the threat of a Jewish assailant was not sufficiently emphasized to the bodyguards. No efforts were made to process the material and use it as a guideline for formulating behavior, planning and implementation. This subject also requires comprehensive discussion -- how to instill in the bodyguards the severity of the danger, even in the absence of concrete information. This was not done.

        Mr. D. Y. resigned from his position before the Commission of Inquiry was appointed. The Commission determined that this resignation reflected its opinion and saw no need for any further recommendation.

    3. B.L. - Head of the VIP Protection Unit

      The Commission reached the final conclusion that the details of the warning sent to B.L. were proven.

      1. B.L. commanded the unit during a peak period and did indeed attempt to improve the service conditions and increase the number of positions available in the unit, but he did not seek to or initiate a reevaluation of the threats versus the means, i.e. the operational protection side, and of the appropriate method of protection.

      2. The Commission determined that a correct management method is one of reciprocal feedback between the senior commander who watches from above and initiates operation, and the subordinate echelon that initiated raising problems. Therefore, B.L. was obliged to initiate a discussion with the designated command echelons and other officials to evaluate the method of protection.

      3. The Commission determined that the actions taken to heighten alertness among the bodyguards regarding the threat of a Jewish assailant were inadequate.

      4. The Commission determined, regarding the rally, that the planning should have been given directly to an experienced branch head and the unit head himself could have designed the protection plan.

        In any case, B.L. should have reviewed the details of the plan and thoroughly checked what had been decided regarding the parking lot, the Gan Ha'ir road and its approaches. He also should have verified that the police were properly deployed and that no critical weak points existed.

      5. The Commission determined that the planning for the northern parking lot was lacking and that the request made to the police was unclear and left a wide opening for misunderstanding on the part of the police.

      6. The Commission determined that during the rally, B.L. did monitor the operation of the police Special Patrol Unit, there was no review of the sterility of the parking lot area and of the clearing of the Gan Ha'ir roof and there was no review of the deployment of the advance squad or of the possibility of going down to the parking lot.

        The Commission recommended that B.L. not continue in his position in the GSS.

    4. A.A. - Head of the VIP Protection Units's Operations Branch

      1. The Commission reached the final conclusion that the details of the warning sent to A.A. were proven, with the exception of one item referring to the failure to distribute and inculcate in the bodyguards the information about a Jewish assailant. It was determined that A.A. was not responsible in this matter.

      2. The Commission determined that A.A. as head of the operations branch and a long-time veteran of the unit who had even served as head of the training branch, should have raised the concern that the changed atmosphere necessitated a change in deployment, i.e. a different method.

        The Commission accepts that the obligation to reevaluate the method in 1995 lay primarily with senior GSS officials. However, in the absence of such an initiative, the issue should have at least arisen in the framework of the unit directly responsible for the matter.

      3. The Commission determined that the planning of protection at the rally, which was assigned to A.A. as the escort of the field commander Y.S., was lacking and in this matter, A.A. was more senior that Y.S. A.A. was assigned to assist him and being far more veteran and experienced than Y.S. he was at least as responsible as him for all of the planning and operational shortcomings. These include defining the requirements from the police, the lack of clarity regarding pedestrians, the failure to check the area in nighttime lighting conditions, the failure to review the police response to the summary made during the preliminary meeting that was sent to headquarters, the failure to compare the police order with the unit's requirements, failure to mention the parking lot in the orders, ignoring the reality in the parking lot as he saw it when he arrived at the rally, and more.

        In light of these findings, the Commission recommended that A.A. not serve in a command capacity in the GSS and that lifting this restriction not be considered for four years.

    5. Y.S. - Head of the VIP Protection Unit's Protection Force at the Rally

      1. The Commission accepted Y.S.'s arguments that according to the method in force during the rally, there was no obligation to ensure that the parking lot be essentially cleared and kept that way.

        Moreover, the Commission determined that the protection method used was lacking, and even unreasonable, that Y.S. was young and inexperienced, and that the head of the operations branch should have accompanied him.

      2. At the same time, the Commission determined that with regard to the planning Y.S. failed to make an adequate tour of the area while coordinating with the police, that he left a lack of clarity in the contents of the agreements with the police, that he failed to review the police planning, that he left unresolved disputes between the unit and police which were not raised with senior command officials for them to decide before the rally.

      3. The Commission determined that the importance and sensitive nature of the northern parking lot should have struck Y.S. even if the protection method did not call for filtering the entire seam area, since the method used also did not call for a unified security approach at each location.

      4. The Commission determined that the roof of Gan Ha'ir was not given sufficient attention and the lighting in the parking lot was not checked in advance under real conditions.

      5. Regarding the operation, the Commission determined that when crowds gathered at the foot of the staircase, Y.S. did not act quickly and decisively to clear the seam area, did not demand that those present in the area be checked and to a large extent was dragged along by the actions of others. Furthermore, he did not deploy the forces in the area in a way that would secure the prime minister's safe departure, and he did not consider an alternative route for the prime minster's departure.

        Based on these conclusions, the Commission recommended that Mr. Y.S. not hold a command position in the GSS and that the matter not be reexamined for two years.

    6. Commander Yaakov Shoval - Commander of the Yarkon Sub-District of the Israel Police Tel Aviv District

      1. The Commission reached the final conclusion that the details of the warning sent to Commander Shoval were proven.

      2. The Commission determined that Commander Shoval bore the heavy responsibility of organizing the deployment of police forces at the rally where some 100,000 participants and several hundred VIPs were expected to attend. The Commission assumed that the deployment at the rally and on the dais were flawless.

      3. Nonetheless, the Commission determined that the deployment of the police forces omitted the northern section of Tel Aviv City Hall, which includes the parking lot. Even if generally, at public events where there are no guarded VIPs, this area is a neglected one in terms of security arrangements, that was not the case this time. As the person responsible for planning the police deployment, Commander Shoval should have considered the organization of this area, appointed a police commander for it and allocated a policing force for it.

      4. The Commission determined that Commander Shoval should have done so independently, despite the failure on the part of the VIP Protection Unit to present clear requests to the police and the flaws that the unit showed in planning and implementation.

      5. The Commission determined that the crowds that gathered around 21:00 hours should have set off a warning light and obligated Commander Shoval to take action that goes beyond issuing an order and entails thoroughly checking what is going on in the area and the identity of those present in the parking lot at the time.

      6. The Commission determined that the forces sent to the parking area at a later point in its sterilization were not grouped together or concentrated, and did not receive instructions together from the field commander or a briefing on the kind of dangers present and the way to handle them.

        The Commission recommended that Commander Shoval be censured by the Police Inspector General and the conclusions of the Commission be inserted into his personal file.

    7. H.K. - Head of the Information Gathering Division

      The warning sent to H.K. by the Commission on 17.12.95 stated:

      "The GSS division head responsible for gathering information on the subject the inquiry is discussing, H. may be adversely affected if the Commission reached the final conclusion that he did not verify that the information he amassed about planned attacks by Jewish elements was distributed in the right way, and in the right numbers, to the relevant echelons in the Israel Police. Refraining to do so is a failure on the part of the abovementioned official to carry out his duties."

      In his arguments before the Commission, H.K. maintained (in person and via his representatives) that the nature of the intelligence material he handles requires extreme caution and limiting distribution, and that he provided the police with abundant detailed information about the threat of an attack against public figures. H.K. further argued that it was incumbent on the police commanders who received the information to distribute it among their subordinates. In order to strengthen his position, he quoted from the remarks of the Minister of Public Security, the Police Inspector General and the head of the Intelligence Department of the Israel Police who testified before the Commission, expressed satisfaction with the intelligence cooperation with the GSS and noted that the threat of a Jewish assailant was known to the police.

      The Commission felt that there were indeed some systemic flaws in the relay of information from the GSS to the police, both with the GSS and with the Police. The former recoiled at distributing information and the latter recoiled from receiving and distributing it among the Israel Police. However these flaws are systemic and not personal, and therefore the Commission found no cause to draw personal conclusions against H.K.

  7. Systemic Conclusions

    1. The Commission rejected the management concept presented to it by the GSS head and on his behalf, whereby the head of the service is responsible for defining the direction and the order of priorities which the service will follow and the division heads are autonomous, each in their respective fields, to operate within the framework of this direction and order of priorities. The Commission believes that effective management means carefully thought out delegation of authority alongside command, supervision, and control. To quote the Commission: "Effective management strategy is bi-directional; it decentralizes authorities, but does not abandon the need for supervision and control, and command initiative from above."

    2. The Commission feels that it is worth reevaluating the procedure for the cooperation between the Israel Police and the GSS on the subject of VIP protection, so that the command structure for operations can be unified, the level of cooperation can be increased and a common operation language can be created for the VIP Protection Unit and the police auxiliary units, mainly the Special Patrol Unit.

    3. The Commission feels that despite the fact that the lessons of the Hebron Commission regarding expanding distribution of intelligence were partly absorbed and implemented, not enough has been done to expand the distribution of intelligence to the forces requiring it. Therefore, the Commission recommends a reevaluation of the methods of distribution intelligence information from the GSS to the police and to the same extent, a reevaluation of the distribution internally among the police.

    4. The Commission further recommended that the number of positions in the VIP Protection Unit be at least doubled, so that it can contend with the existing threats against public figures.

    1. The Commission devoted a sub-chapter of its report to the claims of a so-called conspiracy. Various arguments were raised regarding this matter. These arguments were checked and witnesses were questioned about them, either by the Commission or by the information gatherers. However, no basis was found for these claims.

    2. The Commission also referred to the case of Shlomi Halevy, a student who was aware of Yigal Amir's intentions to commit murder and who reported a conversation he supposedly heard in a public restroom about plans to shoot the prime minister.

      The Commission noted that, after the fact, it can be assessed that a more thorough investigation of Halevy, who portrayed himself as having only a genuine interest of relating the truth, might have led to the uncovering of the real information that Halevy had. However, that obviously does not derogate from the actions and shortcomings of Halevy, who did not divulge the information he had.

    3. The Commission also addressed the running of agents, the need for close supervision of problematic agents and the need to prevent them from violating the law or engaging in provocations.

  8. The Commission commented on the contradictions and conflicting versions of the testimony given by commanders of the VIP Protection Unit, as well as shortcomings of the police and GSS in the immediate transfer of all the relevant material for the Commission's work, from not submitting it at all to submitting it late.

  9. The Commission Report open and available to the public is 214 pages. Attached to it is a classified appendix dealing with the methods of operation of the VIP Protection Unit and the Israel Police, the dissemination of intelligence from the GSS to the Israel Police, the prime minister's supervision of GSS operations and the case known as the Avishai Raviv case. The classified appendix is 118 pages (87 of which are documents and protocols related to the event).

  10. At the conclusion of its remarks, the Commission said, among other things:

    1. This Commission was not appointed to investigate the circumstances and causes that led to the creation of the social and political culture of which the murder was an expression. It was not asked to give its opinion regarding the circumstances that led to the murder. Nor is it a task that a commission of inquiry can or should take upon itself. The Commission was rightly limited to reviewing the performance of persons and institutional systems that were responsible for the security of the prime minister.

    2. Our findings and conclusions which appear in this report reflect the conceptual and operation flaws in many areas, and a weakness in the management culture of government authorities. In this respect, this report serves as a signpost and a warning for many other institutions.

    3. The Commission of Inquiry does not mitigate the need for in-depth soul-searching in Israeli society or search for answers to the questions: how did we get to the point where an Israeli prime minister is murdered by a radical assailant and how did violence thereby become a method for resolving political disputes. There is no doubt that such soul-searching needs to be done and primarily in social and cultural frameworks, including the education system.

    4. Ancient Jewish history experienced political assassinations throughout the generations. In various periods of the history of our people, this method entered into the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah. The reborn State of Israel must learn the lessons of Jewish history.

      After the destruction of the First Temple, there was a political dispute among the remaining Jews still in the Land of Israel, led by Gedaliah Ben Ahikam. This dispute was decided then through a political assassination (Jeremiah, Chapter 40).

      The destruction of the Second Temple was also accompanied by bloodshed among brothers. Zealotry, hooliganism and violence within Jewish society led to destruction as described in the story "Because of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza, Jerusalem was destroyed" (Tractat Gittin, 55-57).

      Two thousand years later, we have returned to our land and it is vital that we know how to eradicate this bad culture that has arisen amongst us:,P> "Rabbi Yohanan said in the name of Rabbi Simeon Bar Yohai: Bad culture in a man's home is worse than Armageddon" (Tractate Berahkot, 7:2).

The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin: 1922-1995
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