Panel Concludes Shin Bet Failed in Protecting Rabin

The government panel appointed to investigate the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin concluded that Israeli security forces had ignored information indicating that a Jewish militant might try to kill the prime minister.

The panel also found flaws in security planning for the Nov. 4 Tel Aviv peace rally at which Rabin was shot.

The three-member Shamgar Commission, headed by former Supreme Court President Meir Shamgar, issued its findings Thursday, a day after Rabin’s assassin, 25- year-old Yigal Amir, was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

The panel found that the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security service, had failed in its primary objective of protecting the prime minister.

The commission’s report said that since Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization signed the Declaration of principles in September 1993, there had been growing amounts of intelligence that a Jewish militant might try to assassinate the prime minister.

But, the report said, the Shin Bet failed to interpret and respond appropriately to the information.

“The Shin Bet did not do enough in terms of adjusting its protection methods to the new risk to cope with the worsening threat, and did not ensure that its VIP bodyguards properly understood the severity of the threat,” the report said.

The commission, which also included army reserve Gen. Zvi Zamir and the dean of the Tel Aviv law faculty, Ariel Rosen-Zvi, was appointed Nov. 8, four days after Rabin’s assassination.

It held 61 meetings and heard 72 witnesses before publishing this week 214 pages of findings as well as a 118-page classified appendix dealing with the operational methods of the Shin Bet and police.

The commission held former Shin Bet head Carmi Gilon directly responsible for the security lapses that took place Nov. 4.

Gilon resigned in the aftermath of Rabin’s assassination, as did the head of the Shin Bet’s security division.

In light of their decisions, the commission did not recommend further punitive measures against them.

But the panel did recommend that the head of the Shin Bet’s VIP protection unit be removed and that the unit’s agent in charge of operations not be allowed to hold a command for four years.

The panel, which also found serious flaws in the security measures of the police force, recommended that Cmdr. Ya’akov Shoval, in charge of the Tel Aviv police district in which the assassination took place, be censured by the police force’s inspector general and that the panel’s conclusions be inserted in his file.

Indeed, the panel had criticisms for every security official it investigated, with the sole exception of the head of the Shin Bet’s information gathering division.

Gilon said Thursday that he accepted responsibility for not adequately maintaining the requisite standards of security.

But he added that the commission did not adequately deal with “the special problems in carrying out our missions, especially when facing a Jewish murderer and terrorist who came from among us.”

Addressing the events of the night of Nov. 4, the commission found that the police and the Shin Bet had failed to coordinate security prior to the rally and that they did not make any moves to correct the situation at the rally itself.

One of the glaring security lapses the panel found was that Amir had been able to loiter in a parking lot near the rally and wait for Rabin without being questioned by any security official at the site.

Prime Minister Shimon Peres, who received the report Thursday, said he was satisfied with the commission’s work.

“I think it is a responsible, balanced report that goes into details and gives the total picture,” he told reporters.

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