JERUSALEM (JTA) – The murder of Yitzhak Rabin was "one of the worst crimes of the new age," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
"It certainly besmirches the annals of the state and of Zionism. It will be etched in Jewish history along with other traumatic events," Netanyahu said Sunday at the weekly Cabinet meeting, which opened with a moment of silence for Rabin.
Rabin was the prime minister when he was assassinated on Nov. 5, 1995.
"This murder also obliges us to safeguard Israel’s democracy, to defend freedom of speech and to strongly reject all displays of violence," Netanyahu said.
Later Sunday, a state service was held on Mount Herzl memorializing Rabin and his wife, Leah.
On Saturday night, some 20,000 people gathered in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv to pay tribute to the prime minister’s memory. Israeli youth movements organized the rally, which was held under the banner of "Remembering the murder — fighting for democracy." It was held at the site where Rabin was shot and killed by right-wing nationalist Yigal Amir.
Among those attending the rally were hundreds of members of the Modern Orthodox movement, and Bnei Akiva Secretary General Danny Hirschberg was a speaker despite opposition from some members. The opposition included the youth of Itamar, who sent Hirschberg a letter decrying his decision and saying that Rabin had wanted to dismantle the West Bank settlement. They also said that Rabin’s policies had led to the death of at least 20 of the community’s residents, including five members of the Fogel family, whose children participated in the youth group.
Saturday night also marked the anniversary of the death of the Jewish foremother Rachel, and more than 70,000 reportedly gathered at Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem.