Amateur video revives shock of Rabin's death Video brings home horror of Rabin's death

PATRICK COCKBURN

Jerusalem

The spout of fire from the gun in Yigal Amir's hand as he fires point blank into Yitzhak Rabin's back is the culminating moment of eight minutes of video film shot by a government accountant, shown for the first time on Israeli television last night. It is an instant of extraordinary drama, its impact deepened by earlier pictures of Amir in a blue T-shirt dawdling near the back steps of Tel Aviv town hall, down which he knows Rabin must walk at the end of a peace rally.

The shock of Rabin's assassination on 4 November was re-created for Israelis yesterday when Yediot Aharanot and later Channel 2 television showed the videotape of the killing, taken by Ronni Kempler, 37, an official from the state compt- roller's office. "It is national masochism to watch this," said one Israeli who refused to open a newspaper or turn on the television all day.

The tape, for which Mr Kempler received $400,000 (pounds 266,000), is a little murky during the decisive moments before the murder. But it shows in graphic detail what happened. First there are shots of cabinet ministers, looking pleased at the end of the rally in support of the government's agreement with the PLO, leaving the meeting. Shimon Peres, then Foreign Minister, and a target considered for elimination by Amir, walks by a few feet from him, but the assassin does not stir.

Amir sits, or stands, in plain view beside a round concrete tub on the pavement in which flowers are growing, well positioned to intercept his victim.

The police keeping the crowd back appear to have decided the relaxed- looking man behind them had the right to be where he was. Sometimes he sits on the edge of the tub, one leg crossed nonchalantly over the other. Mr Kempler is shooting the film from on top of a low building on the other side of a side street.

Rabin comes down the stairs, with three bodyguards beside him, one of whom drops back as he walks towards his car. Amir cannot be seen, but in the frames of the film published by the newspaper it is possible to detect a dark shadow moving around behind Rabin. For a moment it is difficult to distinguish murderer and victim. Amir stretches out his arm and fires. The cone of light from the muzzle of his gun makes the weapon look like a blow torch. The assassin and the mortally wounded prime minister disappear as security men surge forward.

The video provides no new information about the blunders that made it easy for Amir to kill Rabin, although it proves he acted alone at the moment of the assassination. The Shamgar commission into the killing is focusing on the the Shin Bet security agency's failure to protect Rabin. Shin Bet's head, known as Kaf, and other senior officers, have received letters saying they are likely to be blamed for the security failure.

The officers are refusing to resign, while Shimon Peres, the new Prime Minister, has turned down a resignation offer from Kaf. The government does not want all the blame placed on the Shin Bet, as this will allow the right-wing parties to evade responsibility for setting the stage for Rabin's murder.

Amir was in court yesterday for the first day of his trial but after Judge Edmond Levy read out the charges he adjourned proceedings to 23 January, to give time for Amir's lawyers to prepare a defence.

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