Assassination report charges Shin Bet mishandled informer

JERUSALEM, Nov. 13 (JTA) – Declassified portions of a government report on the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin have cast a shadow over Israel’s domestic intelligence agency. While the classified sections released Thursday did not disclose anything to confirm various conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination, it did present a troubling picture of the Shin Bet’s handling of one of its informants, Avishai Raviv. Some Knesset members found the revelations disturbing enough to call for Shin Bet officials to be put on trial. Perhaps the most disturbing of the report’s revelations was that Raviv failed to tell the Shin Bet about Yigal Amir’s repeated boasts that he was planning to kill Rabin. “Raviv was closer to [Amir] than anyone else in organizing student demonstrations and weekends in Judea and Samaria,” the Shamgar Commission report said, adding that it was surprising “that in his report on Yigal Amir, he did not mention or hint at Amir’s known statements about plans to attack the prime minister, which he voiced more than once in his circle of friends.” Amir, who has stated that he wanted to prevent Rabin from ceding land to the Palestinians, is serving a life sentence for the Nov. 4, 1995, assassination of Rabin at a Tel Aviv peace rally.
The formerly secret sections gave details about the years Raviv acted as an undercover agent in Israel’s extremist right-wing circles. It described how he repeatedly attacked Arabs, initiated attacks against Jewish settlement leaders he considered too moderate and repeatedly told friends, including Amir, that the assassination of Rabin could be justified on religious grounds. The Shin Bet recruited Raviv in 1987 from the ranks of right-wing extremists to inform on colleagues who were plotting violence against Palestinians or against Jews who supported the peace process. Earlier this week, the head of the Shin Bet at the time of the Rabin assassination, Carmi Gillon, compared the use of Raviv as an informer to using drug addicts to catch drug dealers. The report indicated that the Shin Bet dropped criminal charges against Raviv at least 11 times during the period he served as an operative. “This is an agent whose actions were provocative, who was not appropriately supervised by his handlers, who themselves sometimes approved his involvement in extremist activities in order to increase his credibility among his surroundings,” the report said. In most cases, the report said, Raviv’s handlers learned of his actions only after they took place. Despite the illegality of his actions, the report said Raviv’s handlers never took any steps beyond repeated warnings that he refrain from such actions. The report noted that while Shin Bet officials were aware that Raviv was a problematic operative, they never severed ties with him in the eight years he was an agent for them. In one conversation Shin Bet officials had with Raviv in April 1992, he was told not to initiate actions but to report back on the actions of others. Raviv was also told that his activities put the Shin Bet in a situation of “chasing its own tail.” National Religious Party leader Shaul Yahalom was among those Knesset members demanding that Raviv’s Shin Bet handlers be brought to trial. The Shin Bet “officials knew for eight years that his activities were illegal and against the country’s legal and political institutions. They must come to trial,” he told Israel Radio. One Cabinet member, Communications Minister Limor Livnat, said the possibility of such a trial should not be ruled out.

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