Israel on Monday was to the 26th anniversary of the assassination of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin with a series of ceremonies that were set to be attended by a host of high-profile Israeli officials.
Rabin was murdered in 1995 by radical right-wing activist Yigal Amir in an event that rocked Israel.
A state memorial service was held 1pm at President's Residence in Jerusalem, attended by a number of high-profile officials including President Isaac Herzog and Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
At 3pm a memorial service was held on Mount Herzl in memory of Yitzhak and his wife Leah Rabin, attended by Herzog, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Rabin's family.
"This day is meant to ring the bells for all of us, year after year for a lifetime, the significance of political assassination in the sovereign State of Israel is meant to warn us all of the terrible extremism that can be reached when substantive and legitimate disputes move side by side and turn into hatred, which is accompanied by incessant incitement," said Herzog during the speech.
"The lesson I took away from Rabin’s murder — under no circumstances, no matter the situation, should the nation be torn apart. We cannot set the house on fire. We are brothers. The only comfort from this terrible murder is the fact that we managed to flourish, to correct," Bennett said.
A special event was set to be held in the Knesset plenum, where a host of prominent politicians, including Bennett and Gantz, where the lawmakers are set to give speeches in honor of the anniversary. The event will also be attended by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu, Gantz, Transport Minister Merav Michaeli and Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar.
Addressing the Knesset plenum, Bennett said that "the right did not murder Rabin, Yigal Amir did."
"I hope we learned that we cannot malign an entire community if one of its members… committed a crime," he said. "It wasn’t the right or the religious who murdered Rabin. Yigal Amir murdered him."
He warns that bloodshed like Rabin’s assassination could lead to "losing everything we hold dear, including the state."
Lapid said the far-right MKs are the "ideological heirs" of Yigal Amir.
"Yigal Amir’s ideological heirs are today serving in Israel’s Knesset. Had we not performed the miracle of the 'change government,' they would be ministers in the government," he said.
During his address, he was interrupted by Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich and Shas chairman Aryeh Deri, who were escorted out of the plenum.
Prior to the event, Speaker of the Knesset Mickey Levy will meet Rabin's family members at his chambers along with Director General of the Knesset Gil Segal and Knesset Secretary General Yardena Meller-Horowitz.
Recently, as part of the digitization of parts of the Knesset's archive, officials scanned some 70,000 films photographed by Knesset photographer Yitzhak Harari, who worked in the parliament for four decades. Among Harari's photos is a rare footage of Yitzhak Rabin's funeral.
"Converting the footage of official and unofficial Knesset footage after Rabin's murder to digital would make them an exciting visual evidence. This project is another piece in the national memory puzzle, and it is extremely important to preserve it," said the Speaker of the Knesset.
"It is not possible to remain indifferent to these photos, even after 26 years, you can still feel the intensity of emotions that shook an entire country," added Segal.
This year, unlike others, the opposition leader won't be attending the ceremony at Mount Herzl. "According to the protocol, the opposition leader will speak at the Knesset meeting in memory of Rabin," said Netanyahu's office in response, without stating the reason for his absence.
The leader of the opposition is not obligated to attend the ceremony, and according to a government official, Netanyahu probably chose to skip the event due to great tension between him and the Rabin family that also included confrontation between the two parties in previous ceremonies.
First published: 13:37, 10.18.21