Israel Battles Words That Incite Killing
A DEEPLY troubled Israel has broadened the search for the killers of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin to include those morally responsible for inciting Jews to commit murder in the name of religion.Skip to next paragraph
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The man who pulled the trigger already is in custody. And security lapses in protecting . Rabin have been exposed and are the subject of a major investigation.
''The more important question now is how to prevent the kind of vitriolic rhetoric and threats that created the climate for his assassination,'' says Rabbi David Forman, chairman of Israeli Rabbis for Human Rights.
Israel Police Minister Moshe Shahal said yesterday he believed that the alleged assassin, law student and religious Jew Yigal Amir, had not acted alone and that an organized group was behind the killing. Shahal said the assassin had received ''technical help and support'' from others.
Law-enforcement agencies have arrested five additional suspects since Amir was held at the scene of the shooting at a peace rally in Tel Aviv Saturday night.
They are Haggai Amir, the alleged assassin's brother, who allegedly knew about his brother's plans and manufactured the bullets used in the shooting; Avishai Raviv, founder and leader of the right-wing extremist group Eyal, the Hebrew acronym for the Jewish Fighting Organization; Dror Hadani, a religious student from Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv; Ohad Skornick of Tel Aviv, a close friend and classmate of Amir's; and Benny Aharoni, a West Bank seminary student and Eyal member. Police Minister Shahal said he believed Mr. Hadani was ''actively involved in the assassination plot.''
Eyal, founded in the 1990s, was visible at right-wing demonstrations outside the prime minister's office here. Leah Rabin, Rabin's widow, has said the group helped create the climate for her husband's assassination. Eyal is known to be an offshoot of the Jewish terrorist organization Kach, founded by the slain right-wing leader Rabbi Mair Kahane.
Police yesterday sealed off the road outside the prime minister's office and kept journalists covering a Cabinet meeting about 200 yards away.
The arrests coincided with the launch of a full-scale state investigation into the security failure surrounding Rabin's assassination. An initial inquiry by the Israeli Secret Service, Shin Bet, presented to the Cabinet Wednesday, raised serious questions about breaches of security.
* Why the parking lot where Rabin's official automobile was parked was not sealed off.
* Why the outer circle of police and special protection personnel was penetrated so easily.
* Why there was no advance group of security guards in position around the car.
* Why none of the guards fired on the assassin when he drew a weapon in clear firing line of Rabin and acting Prime Minister Shimon Peres.
Following the release of the report Tuesday, the head of the Shin Bet protection unit resigned and three senior officials were suspended.
The arrests, resignations, and suspensions followed government orders for a severe crackdown on extremist Jewish right-wing groups and the launching of a series of investigations by the Israeli attorney general under incitement laws.
Attorney General Michael Ben-Yair asked Israeli newspaper editors Wednesday not to publish interviews that amounted to incitement, and Religious Affairs Minister Shimon Shetreet said his department would withdraw government funding of religious institutes whose publications included statements that could be construed as incitement.
Israelis are closely following the accounts of police arrests of suspects in a right-wing conspiracy and the debate about lapses in security.
But Israeli society has become more consumed with the moral responsibility of the right-wing and religious leaders who set the stage for the Rabin assassination by vilifying the slain leader as a ''traitor'' and ''murderer.''