Murder video grips Israelis

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The Independent Online
In the Prime Minister's office it was difficult to find a chair to sit on. In the streets of Jerusalem cars disappeared and shops shut. Some 83 per cent of Israelis watching television on Tuesday night saw the videotape of the murder of Yitzhak Rabin, filmed by Roni Kempler from the roof of a shop.

Shimon Peres, the new Prime Minister, was reported to have watched himself pass within feet of the assassin with "eyes glued to the screen". At one point he turned to Rabin's driver, Menahem Damti, and said he and Rabin had almost got into the car when Yigal Amir struck. "That's right," Mr Damti replied. "We almost managed to get in. It was a few seconds between life and death."

Six weeks after the assassination, the eight-minute video, the only pictures of the event, has revived the sense of shock. Yediot Aharanot, publishing Mr Kempler's pictures, said: "The national wound is open and bleeding. It will not heal. Not for months, not for years, not for a generation." The ease with which Amir was able to penetrate the security men around Rabin also has redoubled criticism of the Shin Bet internal security agency.

Rabin left the rally with four bodyguards, but two left him as he approached his car. According to testimony given to the Shamgar commission, which is investigating the assassination, one was engaged in moving equipment belonging to a singer who performed at the rally. A second was trying to keep back the crowds because the police had not put up enough barriers.

Had all four bodyguards stayed at their posts, Amir still might have got through. He was prepared to die.

An Italian television station yesterday quoted the secret police chief in Gaza, Amin al-Hindi, as saying Iran was plotting to kill the PLO leader, Yasser Arafat. "The planning and preparation ... are being done in a country which has good experience of political assassinations," he said. "Frankly, I'm talking about Iran."