Annual memorial for assassinated PM Rabin canceled due to war with Hamas

Organizers say that ‘at this difficult time,’ official ceremony, scheduled for next week in Jerusalem, will not take place

President Isaac Herzog at a memorial service marking 27 years since the assassination of late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, held at Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem on November 6, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
President Isaac Herzog at a memorial service marking 27 years since the assassination of late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, held at Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem on November 6, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The annual state ceremony in memory of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin has been canceled, organizers said Sunday, citing the ongoing war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

“At this difficult time, the state ceremonies in memory of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin will not take place this year,” said the Yitzhak Rabin Center.

Hamas, which opened the war with a massive ground invasion and rocket offensive on October 7, has continued to barrage southern and central regions with rockets, sending hundreds of thousands of Israelis scrambling to bomb shelters. Some 1,400 people — mostly civilians — were killed on the first day during the terrorist onslaught through the south, and over 200 people of all ages were abducted and taken captive in the Gaza Strip.

“Our hearts are with the families of those who fell in combat and those who were murdered. We hope for the speedy and safe return of the abducted civilians and soldiers,” the center said.

Due to the continued rocket fire, IDF Home Front Command had restricted gatherings to 30 people outdoors and 300 people indoors in Jerusalem, where the ceremony was planned for next week.

Last month, the Prime Minister’s Office announced that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would not attend the event.

Channel 12 and the Haaretz newspaper cited unnamed associates of the premier confirming the matter, and saying the event had become “political.”

It would have been the first time any sitting premier boycotted the ceremony at the Great Leaders of the Nation’s Plot in Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl cemetery, as Netanyahu faced persistent protests against his hardline coalition at almost all public events he attended in Israel and abroad.

In the wake of the Hamas assault, Netanyahu brought in the opposition National Unity Party under Benny Gantz to form an emergency government. At the same time, political activities outside of the security situation have largely ground to a halt. Protests have disappeared and legislation that sparked the demonstrations has stopped.

The ceremony, commemorating the leader who was assassinated in 1995 by right-wing extremist Yigal Amir, has increasingly become a battleground between Netanyahu and Rabin’s relatives, many of whom blame the current premier and then opposition leader for the polarized political climate that led to the murder, and who have increasingly accused him of once again stoking intense divisions in the country.

The assassin Amir shot Rabin at the end of a mass peace rally in Tel Aviv that was called to highlight opposition to violence and to showcase public support for his efforts to negotiate with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu has denied responsibility for the incitement that led to the killing.

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