From the July-August 1999 issue (Vol. 6 No. 5) of Probe
It took almost two years for the American public to suspect a conspiracy was involved in the Kennedy assassination. It took less than two weeks before suspicions arose among many Israelis that Rabin was not murdered by a lone gunman.
The first to propose the possibility, on November 11, one week following the assassination, was Professor Michael Hersiger, a Tel Aviv University historian. He told the Israeli press, "There is no rational explanation for the Rabin assassination. There is no explaining the breakdown. In my opinion there was a conspiracy involving the Shabak. It turns out the murderer was in the Shabak when he went to Riga. He was given documents that permitted him to buy a gun. He was still connected to the Shabak at the time of the murder."
Hersiger's instincts were right, but he believed the conspirators were from a right wing rogue group in the Shabak. It wasn't long before suspicions switched to the left. On the 16th of November, a territorial leader and today Knesset Member Benny Eilon called a press conference during which he announced, "There is a strong suspicion that Eyal and Avishai Raviv not only were connected loosely to the Shabak but worked directly for the Shabak. This group incited the murder. I insist that not only did the Shabak know about Eyal, it founded and funded the group."
The public reaction was basically, "Utter nonsense." Yet Eilon turned out to be right on the money. How did he know ahead of everyone else?
Film director Merav Ktorza and her cameraman Alon Eilat interviewed Eilon in January, 1996. Off camera he told them, "Yitzhak Shamir called me into his office a month before the assassination and told me, 'They're planning to do another Arlosorov on us. Last time they did it, we didn't get into power for fifty years. I want you to identify anyone you hear of threatening to murder Rabin and stop him.'" In 1933, a left wing leader Chaim Arlosorov was murdered in Tel Aviv and the right wing Revisionists were blamed for it. This was Israel's first political murder and its repercussions were far stronger than those of the Rabin assassination which saw the new Likud Revisionists assume power within a year.
Shamir was the former head of the Mossad's European desk and had extensive intelligence ties. He was informed of the impending assassination in October. Two witnesses heard Eilon make this remarkable claim but he would not go on camera with it or any other statement. Shortly after his famous press conference and testimony to the Shamgar Commission, Eilon stopped talking publicly about the assassination.
There are two theories about his sudden shyness. Shmuel Cytryn, the Hebron resident who was jailed without charge for first identifying Raviv as a Shabak agent, has hinted that Eilon played some role in the Raviv affair and he was covering his tracks at the press conference.
Many others believe that pressure was applied on Eilon using legal threats against his niece Margalit Har Shefi. Because of her acquaintanceship with Amir, she was charged as an accessory to the assassination. To back up their threats, the Shabak had Amir write a rambling, incriminating letter to her from prison. The fear of his niece spending a decade in jail would surely have been enough to put a clamp down on Eilon.
Utter nonsense turned into utter reality the next night when journalist Amnon Abramovitch announced on national television that the leader of Eyal, Yigal Amir's good friend Avishai Raviv, was a Shabak agent codenamed "Champagne" for the bubbles of incitement he raised.
The announcement caused a national uproar. One example from the media reaction sums up the shock. The newspaper Maariv wrote: "Amnon Abramovitch dropped a bombshell last night, announcing that Avishai Raviv was a Shabak agent codenamed 'Champagne.' Now we ask the question, why didn't he [Avishai Raviv] report Yigal Amir's plan to murder Rabin to his superiors..? In conversations with security officials, the following picture emerged. Eyal was under close supervision of the Shabak. They supported it monetarily for the past two years. The Shabak knew the names of all Eyal members, including Yigal Amir."
That same day, November 16, 1995, the newspaper Yediot Ahronot reported details of a conspiracy that will not go away. "There is a version of the Rabin assassination that includes a deep conspiracy within the Shabak. The Raviv affair is a cornerstone of the conspiracy plan.
"Yesterday, a story spread among the settlers that Amir was supposed to fire a blank bullet but he knew he was being set up so he replaced the blanks with real bullets. The story explains why after the shooting, the bodyguards shouted that 'the bullets were blanks.' The story sounds fantastic but the Shabak's silence is fueling it."
Without the ‘Champagne' leak, this book would likely not be written. Despite all the conflicting testimony at the Shamgar Commission, the book would have been closed on Yigal Amir and the conspiracy would have been a success. But Abramovitch's scoop established a direct sinister connection between the murderer and the people protecting the prime minister.
So who was responsible for the leak? There are two candidates who were deeply involved in the protection of Eyal but probably knew nothing of its plans to murder Rabin. They are then-Police Minister Moshe Shahal and then-Attorney General Michael Ben Yair.
Shahal was asked for his reaction to the Abramovitch annoucement. He said simply, "Amnon Abramovitch is a very reliable journalist." In short, he immediately verified the Champagne story.
Not that he didn't know the truth, as revealed in the Israeli press:
Maariv, November 24, 1995The police issued numerous warrants against Avishai Raviv but he was never arrested. There was never a search of his home.
Kol Ha Ir, January, 1996Nati Levy: "It occurs to me in retrospect that I was arrested on numerous occasions but Raviv, not once. There was a youth from Shiloh who was arrested for burning a car. He told the police that he did it on Raviv's orders. Raviv was held and released the same day."
Yediot Ahronot, December 5, 1995When they aren't involved in swearing-in ceremonies, Eyal members relax in a Kiryat Araba apartment near the home of Baruch Goldstein's family. The police have been unsuccessfully searching for the apartment for some time.
Everyone in the media knew about the apartment, as did everyone in Kiryat Arba. It was in the same building as the apartment of Baruch Goldstein, the murderer of 29 Arabs in the Hebron massacre of March '94. The police left it alone because Raviv used it for surveillance.
He was also immune to arrest for such minor crimes as arson and threatening to kill Jews and Arabs in televised swearing-in ceremonies. But police inaction was inexcusable in two well-publicized incidents.
Yerushalayim, November 10, 1995Eyal activists have been meeting with Hamas and Islamic Jihad members to plan joint operations.
This item was reported throughout the country, but Avishai Raviv was not arrested for treason, terrorism and cavorting with the enemy. Less explainable yet was the police reaction to Raviv taking responsibility, credit as he called it, for the murder of three Palestinians in the town of Halhoul.
On December 11, 1993, three Arabs were killed by men wearing Israeli army uniforms. Eyal called the media the next day claiming the slaughter was its work. But Moshe Shahal did not order the arrest of Eyal members. He knew Eyal wasn't rsponsible. He knew they only took responsibility to blacken the name of West Bank settlers. His only action, according to Globes, December 13, 1993, was to tell "... the cabinet that heightened action was being taken to find the killers and to withdraw the legal rights of the guilty organization."
After a week of international condemnation of the settlers, the army arrested the real murderers, four Arabs from the town.
At that point Shahal should have had Raviv arrested for issuing the false proclamation on behalf of Eyal. But Shahal did not because he was ordered not to interfere with this Shabak operation. As was Attorney-General Michael Ben Yair, who was so terrified of what could be revealed at the Shamgar Commission that he sat in on every session on behalf of the government and later approved, along with Prime Minister Peres, the sections to be hidden from the public.
After the assassination, it emerged that two left wing Knesset members had previously submitted complaints against Eyal to Ben Yair. On March 5, 1995 Dedi Tzuker asked Ben Yair to investigate Eyal after it distributed inciteful literature at a Jerusalem high school. And on September 24, 1995, Yael Dayan requested that Ben Yair open an investigation of Eyal in the wake of its televised vow to spill the blood of Jews and Arabs who stood in the way of their goals. He ignored both petitions, later explaining, "Those requests should have been submitted to the army or the Defence Minister," who happened to be Yitzhak Rabin.
Both Shahal and Ben Yair were, probably unwittingly, ordered to cover up Eyal's incitements. But when one incitement turned out to be the murder of Rabin, one of them panicked and decided to place all the blame on the Shabak.
According to Abramovitch, "I have a legal background so my source was a high ranking legal official." It sounds like the winner is Ben Yair, which hardly exonerates him or Shahal for supplying Eyal with immunity from arrest or prosecution, without which the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin would not have been possible. However, Ben Yair opened a police complaint against the leaker, and as late as June of '96, reporter Abramovich was summoned to give evidence. The leak thus came from a "traitor" in Ben Yair's office. And because there are Israelis who know the truth and are willing to secretly part with it, this book could be written.
The Testimony Of Chief Lieutenant Baruch Gladstein: Amir Didn't Shoot Rabin
Everyone who saw the "amateur" film of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin witnessed the alleged murderer Yigal Amir shoot the Prime Minister from a good two feet behind him. The Shamgar Commission determined that Amir first shot Rabin from about 50 cm. distance. Then bodyguard Yoran Rubin jumped on Rabin, pushing him to the ground. Amir was simultaneously accosted by two policemen who held both his arms. Yet somehow Amir managed to step forward and shoot downward, first hitting Rubin in the elbow and then Rabin in the waist from about 30-40 cm. distance.
The amateur film of the assassination disputes the whole conclusion. After the first shot, Rabin keeps walking, there is a cut in the film and Rabin reappears standing all alone. Rubin did not jump on him and Amir has disappeared from the screen. He did not move closer nor get off two shots at the prone Rubin or Rabin.
And there is indisputable scientific proof to back what the camera recorded.
What if the shots that killed Rabin were from both point blank range and 25 cm. distance? Obviously, if so, Amir couldn't have shot them.
Now consider the testimony of Chief Lieutenant Baruch Gladstein of Israel Police's Materials and Fibers Laboratory, given at the trial of Yigal Amir on January 28, 1996:
I serve in the Israel Police Fibers and Materials Laboratory. I presented my professional findings in a summation registered as Report 39/T after being asked to test the clothing of Yitzhak Rabin and his bodyguard Yoram Rubin with the aim of determining the range of the shots.
I would like to say a few words of explanation before presenting my findings. We reach our conclusions after testing materials microscopically, photographically and through sensitive chemical and technical procedures. After being shot, particles from the cartridge are expelled through the barrel. They include remains of burnt carbon, lead, copper and other metals...
The greater the distance of the shot, the less the concentration of the particles and the more they are spread out. At point blank range, there is another phenomenon, a characteristic tearing of the clothing and abundance of gunpowder caused by the gases of the cartridge having nowhere to escape. Even if the shot is from a centimeter, two or three you won't see the tearing and abundance of gunpowder. These are evident only from point blank shots.
To further estimate range, we shoot the same bullets, from the suspected weapon under the same circumstances. On November 5, 1996, I received the Prime Minister's jacket, shirt and undershirt as well as the clothes of the bodyguard Yoram Rubin including his jacket, shirt and undershirt. In the upper section of the Prime Minister's jacket I found a bullet hole to the right of the seam, which according to my testing of the spread of gunpowder was caused by a shot from less than 25 cm. range. The same conclusion was reached after testing the shirt and undershirt.
The second bullet hole was found on the bottom left hand side of the jacket. It was characterized by a massed abundance of gunpowder, a large quantity of lead and a 6 cm. tear, all the characteristics of a point blank shot."
The author rudely interrupts lest anyone miss the significance of the testimony. Chief Lieutenant Gladstein testifies that the gun which killed Rabin was shot first from less than 25 cm. range and then the barrel was placed on his skin. In fact, according to a witness at the trial, Nat an Gefen, Gladstein said 10 cm and such was originally typed into the court protocols. The number 25 was crudely written atop the original 10. If the assassination film is to be believed, Amir never had a 25 cm. or 10 cm. shot at Rabin or even close to one. As dramatic a conclusion as this is, Officer Gladstein isn't through. Far from it.
As to the lower bullet hole, according to the powder and lead formations and the fact that a secondary hole was found atop the main entry hole, it is highly likely that the Prime Minister was shot while bending over. The angle was from above to below. I have photographs to illustrate my conclusions."
The court was now shown photographs of Rabin's clothing. We add, according to the Shamgar Commission findings, Rabin was shot first standing up and again while prone on the ground covered by Yoram Rubin's body. Nowhere else but in Gladstein's expert testimony is there so much as a hint that he was shot while in a bent-over position.
After examining the bullet hole in the sleeve of Yoram Rubin, I determined that the presence of copper and lead, plus the collection of gunpowder leads to the likelihood that he, too, was shot from near point blank range... The presence of copper means the bullet used to shoot Rubin was different from that found in the Prime Minister's clothing which was composed entirely of lead. The bullet that was shot at Rubin was never found."
We now enter the realm of the bizarre, as is always the case when Yigal Amir chooses to cross-examine a witness. Chief Lieutenant Gladstein has provided the proof that Amir did not shoot the bullets that killed Rabin, yet Amir is determined to undermine the testimony.
Amir: "According to your testimony, I placed the gun right on his back."
Gladstein: "You placed the gun on his back on the second shot and fired."
Amir: "And the first shot was from 50 cm?"
Gladstein: "Less than 20 cm."
Amir: "If one takes into account that there is more gunpowder from the barrel, then the muzzle blast should also increase."
Gladstein: "To solve this problem, I shoot the same ammunition, and in your case, from the same gun, I shot the Baretta 9 mm weapon with hollowpoint bullets into the prime minister's jacket."
Amir: "When I took the first shot, I saw a very unusual blast."
Amir is close to realizing finally that he shot a blank bullet but blows his case when he concludes, "We need a new expert because I didn't shoot from point blank range."
Away all talk about far-right, conspiracy nut theories. The Materials and Fibers Laboratory of Israel Police concluded that Rabin was shot from less than 20 cm and point blank range, no matter what Amir says. Furthermore, the bodyguard Yoram Rubin was shot by a different bullet than felled Rabin or was found in Amir's clip. Unless Israel Police's fibers expert is deliberately promoting far-right, conspiracy nut theories, Yigal Amir's gun did not kill Yitzhak Rabin.
How did They Miss Amir at the Rally?
One of the questions the media asked after the assassination is how the Shabak missed identifying Amir in the sterile area where he "shot" Rabin. The first answer given by the Shabak was that because of the thick crowd, it was impossible to pick out Amir.
The "amateur film" purportedly made by Ronnie Kempler put that lie to rest. Amir is shown alone standing by a potted plant for long minutes without another soul in sight for yards around him. The only people who are filmed talking to him are two uniformed policemen.
Under normal circumstances, the Shabak would have prevented Amir from getting anywhere near the rally itself, and had he somehow gained access to the sterile area, he would have been apprehended on the spot. Because, you see, the Shabak had lots of information that Amir was planning to assassinate Rabin.
Take the famous case of Shlomi Halevy, a reserve soldier in the IDF's Intelligence Brigade and a fellow student of Amir's at Bar Ilan University. After being informed that Amir was talking about killing Rabin, he reported the information to his superior officer in the brigade. He told Halevy to go to the police immediately. Halevy told them that "A short Yemenite in Eyal was boasting that he was going to assassinate Rabin." The police took Halevy very seriously and transferred his report to the Shabak where it wasn't "discovered" until three days after Rabin's assassination.
The weekly newsmagazine Yerushalayim on September 22, 1996 managed to convince Halevy to give his first interview since the discovery of his report and the subsequent media fallout. The magazine noted, "Halevy's and other reports of Amir's intentions which gathered dust in Shabak files have fueled numerous conspiracy theories...After the uproar, Halevy went into hiding.
"Shlomi Levy, if you did the right thing why have you hidden from the public?
"The assassination is a sore point with the Shabak. They're big and I'm little. I don't know what they could do to me."
Halevy was the most publicized case because as a soldier in the Intelligence Brigade, the Shabak was absolutely required to take his evidence seriously, as did the police. But Halevy was not the only informant.
Yediot Ahronot, November 12, 1995A number of weeks before the Rabin assassination, the Shabak received information about the existence of Yigal Amir and his intention to murder Yitzhak Rabin.
Yediot Ahronot was informed that one of the Eyal activists arrested last week was interrogated for being a possible co-conspirator with Yigal Amir because the assassin's brother Haggai had mentioned him in his own interrogation.
At the beginning of his interrogation, the suspect broke out into bitter tears and told a tale that was initially viewed with tongue in cheek by the interrogators. Weeks before the murder, the suspect heard Amir speak his intentions and he was shocked. He was torn between informing the authorities and betraying his fellows, so he chose a middle route. He would give away Amir's intentions without naming him.
After some hesitation, he informed a police intelligence officer about Amir's plan in detail stopping just short of identifying him or his address. He told where Amir studied and described him as a "Short, dark Yemenite with curly hair."
The description was passed along the police communications network and classified as important. The information was also passed to the Shabak, officers of which subsequently took a statement from the suspect. Because he was in a delicate position, neither the police nor Shabak pressed him further.
While interrogated, the suspect named the police and Shabak officers and his story checked out. He was then released. Shabak officials confirmed that the man had previously given them a description of Amir and his plan to murder Rabin.
Maariv, November 19, 1995Hila Frank knew Amir well from her studies at Bar Ilan. After the assassination, she hired a lawyer and told him that she had heard Amir state his intention to murder Rabin well before the event. As a member of the campus Security Committee, she organized anti-government demonstrations. Thus, she was torn between exposing Amir's intentions and the interests of the state.
To overcome the dilemma, Frank passed on her information to Shlomi Halevy, a reserve soldier in the Intelligence Brigade who promised that it would be given to the right people.
Yerushalayim, November 17, 1995Why wasn't a drawing of Amir based on Halevy's description distributed to the Prime Minister's security staff? Why didn't they interrogate other Eyal activists to discover who the man threatening to kill the prime minister was?
Yediot Ahronot, November 10, 1995A month and a half before the assassination, journalist Yaron Kenner pretended to be a sympathizer and spent two days at a study Sabbath in Hebron organized by Yigal Amir.
"Who organized this event?" I asked. He pointed to Yigal Amir...He had invited 400 and over 540 arrived. This caused organizational havoc.
When Amir spoke, people quieted down, testifying to some charisma. On the other hand, his soft tone and unimpressive stature wouldn't have convinced anyone to buy even a Popsicle from him.
Maariv, December 12, 1995During his "Identity Weekends," hundreds of people heard Amir express his radical thoughts, amongst which were his biblical justifications for the murder of Rabin.
Yediot Ahronot, November 24, 1995Yigal Amir turned into an object of attention for the Shabak beginning six months ago when he started organizing study weekends in Kiryat Arba and they requested a report on him. Raviv prepared the report.
Maariv, November 24, 1995A carful of Bar Ilan students were driving from Tel Aviv when they heard the announcement of Rabin's shooting on the radio. They played a game, each thinking of five people who might have done it. Yigal Amir was on all their lists.
How could the Shabak have missed Yigal Amir at the rally unless they did so on purpose? Yigal Amir did not keep his intentions to assassinate Rabin a secret. He told many hundreds of people gathered at his study weekends and seems to have told everyone within hearing distance at Bar Ilan University.
Besides the question of Amir's most un-murderer-like desire to let the world know his plans, we must ask why the Shabak didn't apprehend him. Yes, they knew about him. The proof is indisputable. Two people, one within Eyal, the other a soldier in the Intelligence Brigade told them. Their own agent Avishai Raviv heard his threats, along with hundreds of other people at the study weekends and reported them to his superiors.
So why didn't they arrest him well before the rally, outside the rally or within the sterile zone?
Because wittingly or not, Yigal Amir was working for the Shabak.
The Kempler Film
Almost two months after the Rabin assassination, Israelis were shocked to read in their newspapers that an amateur film of the event would be shown on Channel Two news. The filmmaker was announced as a Polish tourist with a long, unpronounceable name. However, this story changed the day of the broadcast. The filmmaker was, in fact, an Israeli named Roni Kempler.
There were obvious questions asked by the public. Why had he waited a month to show the film when he would have been a few million dollars richer had he sold it to the world networks the day following the assassination? In his sole television appearance the night his film was broadcast, he explained he wasn't interested in making money. What else could he say?
It was quickly discovered that Kempler was no ordinary citizen. He worked for the State Comptroller's Office and was a bodyguard in the army reserves.
It is an extremely rare occurrence when the Israeli press publishes an opinion that expresses doubt about the veracity of the Shamgar Commission, which investigated the assassination on behalf of the government. Yet in the aftermath of a most revealing expose of the testimony of General Security Services (Shabak) agents and police officers present near the murder site published by Maariv on September 27, 1996, two letters were published in response. One was from Labour Knesset Member Ofir Pines who admitted he too heard numerous security agents shout that the shots which supposedly felled Rabin were blanks. He added rather weakly that in retrospect, perhaps he heard the shouts because he wanted to believe that the bullets weren't real.
A second letter was from Hannah Chen of Jerusalem and she succinctly summarized some of the most blatant suspicions of Roni Kempler. The letter read:
Allow me to add my doubts about the strange facts surrounding the Rabin assassination. First, it was said that the video filmmaker who captured the murder didn't own his own camera, rather he borrowed one. It's odd that an amateur filmmaker didn't own a camera and if he borrowed one, then from whom? Why weren't we told what kind of a camera he used? Secondly, no one initially knew that he made the film, that a film of the assassination existed. Does that mean none of the security agents on the scene spotted him filming from a rooftop? And how did the video get to the media? Shouldn't the Shabak have confiscated the film from its owner if this was the only documentary evidence describing the crime? And why didn't the filmmaker voluntarily turn over the film to the police?
It is completely uncertain if the film is authentic. In my opinion, it was tampered with. Perhaps people were removed or bullet sounds added. It appears to me that we were all fooled. The filmmaker worked for the Shabak and everything to do with the film and the timing of its release were fake.
Ms. Chen expressed the view of many. Nonetheless, the film, as edited as it obviously was during its two months of non-acknowledgement, is as valuable to solving the Rabin assassination as was the Zapruder film in putting to rest the lone gunmen lie foisted on the American public in the wake of the JFK murder.
The event captured on the film that is becoming the center piece of doubts about the veracity of the Shamgar Commission is the door of Rabin's vehicle that closes before he enters the car. To almost everyone who watches that door close, it is certain that someone, perhaps the murderer, was waiting in the Cadillac for Rabin. This is in direct contradiction to the official conclusion that Rabin entered an empty car. But there is more on the Kempler film that contradicts the official findings; much more.
As the fifteen minute film begins, Yigal Amir looks in the distance and as the television commentator noted, "Seems to be signaling someone." It is not the first time that the possibility of an accomplice was noted. At the Shamgar Commission police officers Boaz Eran and Moti Sergei both testified that Amir spoke with a bearded man in a dark tee shirt who he appeared to know, about half an hour before the shooting.
As the film progresses, the viewer realizes that Shabak testimony to Shamgar was very wrong. One of the primary excuses given for not identifying Amir in the sterile area was because of the crowded situation. To prove the point, the testimony of police officers saying that "another well known demonstrator who works for the city rushed at Rabin and shook his hand," is cited. Amir, then was not the only anti-Rabin individual in the sterile zone. However, Amir is not filmed in a crowd. He stood for long minutes meters away from anyone else. No one could have missed him had they wanted to see him.
Then, two security officers strike up a conversation with Amir. He was noticed and apparently had something to say to the very people who should have identified and apprehended him.
A few minutes later, Shimon Peres comes down the steps and walks towards the crowd at the barrier. He accepts their good wishes and walks to a spot about a meter and a half opposite the hood of Rabin's car. He is accompanied by four bodyguards, one of whom clearly points to Yigal Amir sitting three meters away opposite them. Peres stops, looks inside the car and begins a conversation with the bodyguards. All now take a good look at the Rabin limousine windshield and turn towards Amir.
At this point there is a cut. Suddenly Peres is talking to Rabin's driver, Menachem Damti. Damti was nowhere in the screen previously and was likely by his post beside the driver's seat door. The cut was significant, probably of several seconds. There was something the folks who chopped the film didn't want the public to see. Perhaps Peres acknowledged Amir too blatantly.
After a hard night at the rally, instead of getting into his car and going home, Peres decided it was more important to examine Rabin's car and have a serious chat with his driver.
Ronnie Kempler was asked to explain the cut in the film under oath at Yigal Amir's trial. He testified that, "Shimon Peres left and I filmed him as he was supposed to enter his car. But when Shimon Peres stood on the same spot for a long time, he stopped interesting me cinematically. I stopped filming and started again the moment he entered his car."
Kempler's account was wrong in every detail. If the film wasn't cut and he shut off the camera, he decided to turn it back on while Peres was still standing opposite Rabin's car, only now talking to Damti. Many seconds later, he started walking towards his own car. Kempler's testimony was perjured, yet Amir's lawyers, possibly not familiar enough with the film, let him off the hook.
Peres enters his car and Rabin descends the steps. The camera captures the agents at Rabin's rear clearly stopping. They abandon Rabin's back deliberately, a huge gap between them and Rabin opens allowing Amir a clear shot at the Prime Minister. Amir draws his gun from deep inside his right pocket and the television commentator notes, "Amir is drawing his gun to shoot." Anyone, trained or not, could see that Amir was drawing a gun and at that point he should have been pounced on. But, this was not to be. Instead, he circles a student reporter named Modi Yisrael, draws the gun and shoots.
We now play the murder frame by frame. Rabin has supposedly taken a hollow point nine mm bullet in his lung, yet he doesn't wince or flinch. He is not even pushed forward by the impact nor does his suit show signs of tearing. Instead, he continues walking forward and turns his head behind him in the direction of the noise.
Three doctors watched this moment with me; Drs. B. and H. asked for anonymity and Dr. Klein of Tel Aviv had no objection to being cited. I asked if Rabin's reaction was medically feasible if he was only hit in the lung or if his backbone was shattered. I was told that if the spine was hit, Rabin would have fallen on the spot. However, in the case of a lung wound I was told that there are two types of pain reaction, one reflexive, the other delayed. Rabin, did not display the reflexive reaction, which would have most likely meant clutching the arm. Instead, he displayed a startle reaction, painlessly turning his head toward the direction of the shot. The conclusion of the doctors was that Rabin heard a shot, perhaps felt the blast of a blank and turned quickly towards the noise. This was a startle reaction and it cannot occur simultaneously with a reflexive pain reaction.
Rabin takes three or four steps forward and suddenly the film becomes totally hazy for just under two seconds. Cameraman Alon Eilat is convinced the film was deliberately made fuzzy by an artificial process duplicating a sudden, quick movement of the camera. To illustrate his belief, he put his finger on one point, a white reflective light on the windshield and notes that it stays in the same position while the camera is supposedly swishing. But the haze lifts momentarily almost two seconds later and Rabin appears, still standing but a step or two forward. He has taken at least five steps since the shooting. Then the swish returns and within the next round of haze, another shot is heard but not seen.
According to the Shamgar Commission and the judges at Yigal Amir's trial, Yoram Rubin was on top of Rabin lying on the parking lot ground when the second shot was fired. The official version is that after hearing the first shot, Rubin jumps on Rabin and pushes him to the ground. Amir approached Rabin and Rubin and while being held by at least two other bodyguards pumped one bullet into Rubin's arm and another into Rabin's spleen. There followed a hiatus in the shooting, during which Rubin thinks to himself, "A defect in the weapon," and then according to Rubin, "I shouted at him several times, 'Yitzhak, can you hear me, just me and no one else, goddammit?' He (Rabin), helped me to my feet. That is we worked together. He then jumped into the car. In retrospect, I find it amazing that a man his age could jump like that." (The author finds it amazing that a man his age with bullets in his lung and spleen could jump at all.)
The Kempler film reveals that the whole story is utter hogwash. A famous photo of Rabin being shoved into the car shows up on the film as a flash. At that point, we know Rubin, injured arm and all, is not on the ground, rather he is on his feet holding Rabin. There are 24 frames/second in video film, so timing events is simple. From the time of the second shot to the flash, 4.6 seconds pass. Try repeating ,"Yitzhak can you hear me, just me and no one else, goddamit" three times in 4.6 seconds. Then add the hiatus, and how long is a hiatus before a man being shot decides it's safe to get up, and think to yourself "A defect in the weapon." Try all that in 4.6 seconds. Rubin's timing is, simply, impossible.
Further, Rubin is not filmed on top of Rabin, and Rabin does not jump into the car. The photo of Rubin pulling Rabin into the car disproves that even without the added proof of the Kempler film. Rubin's testimony, to put it mildly, is not born out by the Kempler film.
And now comes the piece de resistance, the most haunting moment of the tape. Two seconds before Rabin is placed in the car, the opposite back passenger door slams shut. This segment has been examined and tested by numerous journalists, every shadow on the screen traced, every possible explanation exhausted and in the end it has withstood all scrutiny. Someone, an unknown fourth person, possibly the murderer, was waiting inside the car for Rabin.
When I show this segment to audiences, inevitably I am asked, "Why did they make this film if it's so incriminating?" I reply, "The film convinced the whole country that Amir murdered Rabin. People always say, 'But I saw him do it with my own eyes.' And that is what the film was supposed to do. But the conspirators were so sloppy, they left in the truth. Either they didn't notice it, or they thought no one else would."
So why didn't Yigal Amir's attorneys tear Kempler to bits on the stand or use the film to its maximum advantage? The truth be told, Amir's attorneys either weren't interested enough in his welfare, weren't properly prepared or weren't talented enough to challenge the kangaroo court head on. Take a look at how they handled the issue of the unexplainable closing door:
Defence: After the event, the back right door of the car was also open.
Kempler: I filmed what I filmed.
The end, no followup. And it's not that the defence didn't have plenty of ammunition. On the night his film was shown on Channel Two in January '96, Kempler was interviewed by commentator Rafi Reshef. The fast talking, nervous Kempler was most unbelievable, as the following interview segments show;
Reshef: Why did you wait so long to release the film to the public?
Kempler: A few reasons. I didn't want to be known. Also, I thought it was forbidden to show the film so soon after the murder. The public needed time to digest it as a historic film...But after the Shamgar Commission got it, I kept hearing on the street that I'm the sucker of the country. That really aggravated me, so I got a lawyer and decided to make some money selling it.
How altruistic! What Kempler forgets to mention is that he didn't tell anyone he had filmed the assassination until two weeks later when supposedly he woke up to what he had and sent the Shamgar Commission a registered letter informing them. In the meantime, he was withholding vital evidence from the police.
Reshef: Did anyone observe you filming?
Kempler: Yes, the bodyguard...I'm sure I saw (singer) Aviv Gefen look right into my camera.
Kempler almost let slip that the bodyguards were watching him film, and indeed this is apparent on the film itself when just before the Peres cut, one of his bodyguards turns back and looks directly up to him, but he thought the better of it and switched to a nonsensical fantasy involving a pop singer.
Reshef: Why did you concentrate so much of the film on the killer?
Kempler: I felt there was something suspicious about him. I let my imagination run away with me and felt murder in the air. It wasn't so strong when Peres was there but when Rabin appeared, ‘WOW.'
Kempler felt there was an assassination in the air and suspected Amir could be the assassin. This was truly a parapsychological feat but lucky it happened or he wouldn't have bothered focusing in on Amir. And lucky he just happened to be the only cameraman on the balcony overlooking the murder scene. And luckily, it was so dark at the murder scene, few amateur cameras could have captured the act.
Reshef: There has been much speculation why you happened to be the only one in the right place to film the assassination. How do you explain it?
Kempler: I felt someone caused me to be in that place.
Reshef: What, are you a fatalist?
Nope, a mystic as we shall soon see.
Reshef: Did anyone try to interfere with you?
Kempler: There were undercover officers around. One told me it was alright to film but I had to stop when Rabin appeared.
Yeah, sure. Now compare Kempler's version of events as told to Reshef with what Kempler testified to at Amir's trial. To Reshef:
Kempler: An undercover policeman came up to me and asked me a few questions and asked to see my ID. I showed it to him and he walked away. He stopped, turned back and shouted, ‘What did you say your name was?' I shouted it back. He said,‘Good.' And that was that. The police had all the details of my identity.
So why didn't they call that night to get the film? What is described is a very friendly encounter, indeed. Here is how the incident was transformed for Amir's trial:
Kempler: There was an undercover cop who told me not to film. I told him he has no right to tell me not to film. I asked him if something secret was going on? I told him again he has no right to tell me not to film. And if he does it again, I would take down his particulars and issue a complaint to the police.
A rather drastically altered situation. Someone or more than one thought that Kempler's explanation to Reshef about why he was permitted to film in such a sensitive security location was too weak, so he painted a new, tougher picture. An updated version of his previous explanation about why he focused in on Amir painted a much goofier portrait.
Kempler: When I stood on the balcony, I spent a lot of time in the dark and to my regret, my imagination began to work overtime. I begin to imagine many things, even God forbid, a political assassination...I have no explanation why I had this feeling. I'm not sure it wasn't something mystic.
And because of this mysticism, Kempler felt, "The defendant stood out. I don't know what he did... but I recall he stood out. I can't recall anything other than what I filmed."
Indeed he couldn't because at the beginning of his testimony Kempler says the film shown to the public, "contained no changes or alterations." By the end, he admits, "There are gaps and there are differences."
Why the change of heart? Because Amir's attorneys pointed out some very suspicious contradictions in the film.
Defence: We don't hear everything in the film but we hear lots, including shouts. So why don't we hear the shouts of "They're blanks."
Kempler: Don't ask me. I'm not the address.
Defence: Yoram Rubin testified that he fell on Rabin, why don't we see that in the film?
Kempler: I'm not a video or camera expert. I'm not the address for questions like that.
The address, of course, is the technical department of the Shabak, where the film was altered during the time Kempler decided not to turn it over to the police or sell it. But this was not a skilled technical department. While the film was being edited and altered, Yigal Amir was filmed a second time, during his reconstruction of the murder a few days after the event. And this reconstruction at the crime scene deeply compromised the validity of the Kempler film.
The first error made was enormous and was pointed out to me later by a man who claimed he was the first to report it to the press. In the reconstruction film, Amir shoots with his right hand, as numerous eye witnesses saw him do. But in the still of the Kempler film released initially exclusively to the newspaper Yediot Ahronot, Amir is shooting with his left hand.
And that's not all. In the reconstruction film, Amir has bushy unshaped sideburns past the middle of his ear. The shooter in the Kempler photo still has squared sideburns at the top of his ear. Another person was superimposed over Yigal Amir for the still and there is maybe one possible reason why. The superimposed figure's arm looks longer, thus reducing the range of the shot, a necessity to be explained shortly. This is just one possibility. There are others, so far, less convincing. Nonetheless, for whatever reason, Amir's image was almost certainly removed from the Kempler film still and replaced by another.
But the reconstruction film belied the Kempler film in other ways, as reluctantly testified to by Lieutenant Arieh Silberman, Amir's chief investigator, at the defendant's trial.
Defence: Did you notice the differences between the video shown on Channel Two and the film of the reconstruction? Did you see the reconstruction film?
Silberman: I saw the reconstruction. It was of the same event in principle but there was an obvious difference. You can see the difference.
Defence: You're responsible for the defendant's investigation. Why is there a difference between the reconstruction film and the video shown on Channel 2?
Silberman: To my eyes, the difference isn't significant. The defendant doesn't think so. He never brought it up. I wasn't at the reconstruction.
Defence: Why is there a break where we don't hear part of the audio?
Silberman: I didn't make the film. It was handled by the technicians of several units. I'm responsible for investigating the defendant, not the film.
Defence (Amir now acts as his own attorney): Is there a difference between the original film and what was shown on Channel Two?
Silberman: Could be.
Defence: What's the most outstanding difference?
Silberman: The position of the prime minister.
Defence: In the reconstruction, I go straight toward him.
Defence: And in the original video I took a roundabout route.
Silberman: According to what I saw, you circled someone before getting behind (Rabin).
Amir reconstructed his alleged crime wrongly according to the Kempler film. And he shot with the wrong hand according to the still of the Kempler film. If Amir's attorneys had bothered to press the issue, they might have been able to construct a plausible argument that he wasn't even at the scene of the crime, according to the Kempler film.
[This next section is a chapter Chamish wrote after his book, Who Murdered Yitzhak Rabin?, was published.—Eds.]
At Long Last: Rabin's Third Wound Proven
November 1998. It had been a good eighteen months since the last hidden documentation about the Rabin assassination had been uncovered. Since then some serious evidence had emerged about the political side of the murder. A year before, the government released some sections of the previously closed Shamgar Commission findings which incriminated Avishai Raviv far more deeply in widespread crimes of provocation. Two months later, one former Eyal activist, Benny Aharoni signed a sworn statement to Knesset Member Michael Eitan, that under orders from Raviv, he phoned three dozen reporters and delivered the infamous "We Missed But We'll Get Rabin Next Time" message, well before the shooting was announced on the Israeli media. And journalist Adir Zik had gathered powerful evidence of Carmi Gillon's complicity in the murder.
But the tap had shut tight on any new medical, police or forensic documentation. It looked as though the evidence I had collected for this book would be the last of the proofs that Yigal Amir had not shot fatal bullets into Rabin. The strongest evidence was the testimony of Police Chief Lieutenant Baruch Gladstein proving that Rabin was shot point blank and Dr. Mordechai Guttman's surgeon's notes describing a frontal chest wound which passed through the lung before shattering the vertebrae at D5-6.
When this book was written I had read Guttman's full surgical report, which included the description of three gunshot wounds and the publicly released procedural summation of November 5 which removed the frontal chest wound and shattered spine. Thus, it was Dr. Guttman's written word from the night of the murder versus his altered version of events, co-authored with Drs. Kluger and Hausner, the next day. Whenever Dr. Guttman was confronted with his report of the chest wound on the murder night, he answered that he had mistaken Rabin's ribs for his spine. If so, that Dr. Guttman couldn't tell the difference between ribs and the spinal column, as one doctor attending a lecture of mine told the audience, he should be disbarred from ever practising medicine again. However, another doctor did give Dr. Guttman the benefit of the doubt: if the bullet shattered the vertebrae at the point where the ribs join the spine, such a mixup was both logical and understandable. The main problem was that we were missing reliable descriptions of Rabin's condition before and after the doctors went to work on him. Dr. Guttman's report of a frontal chest wound lacked overall perspective and seemed an oddity that could be sloughed off with the explanation that he was mistaken when he wrote it.
In early December, American filmmaker Peter Goldman arrived in Israel with the intention of gathering the evidence needed to justify raising funds for a full length documentary based on my book. I gave him my contacts, who were new to him and we shared one contact in common. I expressed the opinion that visiting him would be a waste of time. I had a meeting with him a year and a half before and followed it up with two phone calls. It was all for naught; this contact had not provided me with any new evidence. Undaunted, Peter met him anyway and was well rewarded for following his instincts. Just a few hours before departing the country, Peter presented me with three new documents. I immediately understood that they were the final pieces of the puzzle. We now had a complete diary of Rabin's treatment at Ichilov Hospital. Document one was the initial visual diagnosis of Rabin by Dr. Guttman. Hastily written in English, the diagnosis reads, "GSW Abdomen and Chest": Gunshot wounds to the abdomen and chest. When I read the word chest, I thought I had found the smoking gun. Rabin arrived with a chest wound. Amir never shot him in the chest. Case closed. I would have to change my book. There were only two wounds, not three. There was no third shot in the hospital. Rabin was shot in the chest in the car. However, within a few days, two experts set me straight. A chest wound can also begin from the back if the bullet travels forward and injures the chest. Page two was far more detailed. It begins with a description of Rabin's first bodily examination and provides us with indisputable proof of Rabin's condition immediately after he was placed on the examination table. Page three was the summation of the operation. At last, we no longer had to depend on the public summation of November 5 to understand the cause of Rabin's death. I now had the whole story in hand and it was told in the following reports:
1. First diagnosis
2. First bodily examination
3. Surgical procedure
4. Operation summation
5. Altered public summation
By the time I had completed my book, I had read 3 and 5. Four months after the book was released, I received 1, 2 and 4. And to my great relief, they confirmed my thesis conclusively. The documents, though not lengthy nor wordy are surprisingly complicated and packed with information which can be interpreted in different ways. Nonetheless, one piece of information cannot be disputed: Rabin's first chest wound cannot possibly be the same one which Dr. Guttman described on the last page of his surgical procedure report.
As recalled, Guttman operated on a wound beginning in the upper lobe of the right lung, which exited the lung in the direction of Dorsal Vertebrae 5-6, leaving a 2.5-3 cm. exit wound in the lung before shattering the vertebrae. That is the wound Rabin ended up with. Here is the wound he arrived with. According to the newly uncovered first bodily examination report, Rabin's chest wound was caused by, "an entrance wound in the area of the right shoulder blade which lodged under the skin in ICS3 at MCL 3-4." Translated: The bullet entered the right shoulder blade and took a straight line path to Intercostal Space 3 at Midclavicular line 3-4. Simplified: The bullet went from the right shoulder blade to just below the right nipple. Dr. Guttman could not have mixed up the ribs and the spinal column because this bullet was lodged in the mid-section of the ribs, almost as far from the spine as is possible. I received a detailed explanation from a physician who had the foresight to bring visual aids in the form of large-scale skeletal charts. In report 3, Dr. Guttman does indeed begin the operation with procedures to treat a rear chest wound. And Rabin responds. His pulse returns to 130, his blood pressure to 90. Then without explanation as to why, his pulse drops to 60, his blood pressure also to 60 and then all vital signs disappear from the monitor. It is at this point that Dr. Guttman suddenly operates on a frontal chest wound which shatters the backbone. The physician explained, "It's as if that wound came out of nowhere. The patient's vital organs had stopped functioning and other procedures were called for. There was no reason to begin a new operation, unless there was a new wound."
The physician then tried every hypothetical bullet path to match the frontal chest/spine wound Dr. Guttman finally operated on, with the rear chest wound Rabin arrived with, as described in documents 1 and 2. Even with the most deft of contortions, the wounds didn't match. In order for one bullet to do all the damage described in reports 1, 2, and 3, it would have to take the following journey: Amir would have had to have shot Rabin in a near straight line from the side, not the back, something he did not do. The bullet would have entered the shoulder blade and carried on to the upper lobe of the right lung, switching directions to go down to Dorsal Vertebrae 5-6, which are in the mid-back. Then it would have had to have shattered the vertebrae and been deflected upward, entering and exiting the lung again before lodging just below the skin in the area of the right nipple. The physician concluded, "If that was so, and I add that it most certainly wasn't so, why was the first diagnosis a straight line back to chest wound and why didn't Dr. Guttman report the two additional lung punctures? Even if somehow one bullet caused these two wounds, it was incumbent on the surgeon to accurately describe the damage."
Finally, all three of Rabin's wounds were revealed. The first two wounds, to the chest and abdomen occurred before Rabin's arrival. The third, frontal chest wound, had to have been inflicted after he entered the hospital. Of the second wound, the bullet entered the abdomen via the left flank. Dr. Guttman failed to notice another rather important detail as we shall soon see. We now examine report 4, and what a tale it tells. The operation is now over and the surgical team writes its conclusion of their very busy night. And what a talented team it was. Department Heads all. No longer is Dr. Guttman the sole witness to the night's events. Though he writes the summation, it is witnessed by Drs. Kluger and Yaacovitz, anaethesiologist Dr. Ostrovski and nurses Evelyn and Svetlana. Svetlana, co-signs the report and adds signed confirmation, finally, of Dr. Guttman's surgical procedures. Let's begin easy. At the bottom of the page are the times of the whole night's events. Rabin was received at 22 hours, on the table at 22:05, under anesthesia at 22:10, operated on beginning at 22:15 and ending at 23:30. The problem here is that Rabin's death was officially announced at 23:20. We'll assume for now that the clock was wrong in the operating theater. The real story is at the top of the page. First, it goes a long way to confirming the laboratory conclusions of Chief Lieutenant Gladstein by noting that Rabin was shot from close range. Next, in report 1, we read that Rabin was admitted with gunshot wounds to the chest and abdomen. By report 4, some new wounds seem to have been added. The major wounds are still GSW to chest and abdomen. But now four secondary wounds are added in English. They are:
GSW to right lung
laceration of spleen
spinal shock?! [sic]
Dr. Guttman added the question and exclamation marks for emphasis, apparently indicating that this was the final cause of death. At least, that's what the physician and an IDF officer from the medical corps both guessed. Laceration of the spleen and hemorraghic shock were likely internal wounds caused by the shot to the flank.
However, the first and last wounds are highly problematic, as the physician explains. "First, you must accept that unlike the nearly conclusive evidence of two chest wounds that we examined before, this document is open to much more interpretation. Still, some really bothersome questions should be asked. "Let's look at the secondary gunshot wound to the lung. Why would the doctors have even mentioned it? They reported a major gunshot wound to the chest and that, except in the rarest of injuries, includes the lung. What's the point of mentioning the lung wound again unless it came from another gunshot?"
The Shamgar Commission examined these very same documents and asked the same question. They were told that the second wound to the right lung was caused by the bullet that entered the flank. It passed through the spleen and stomach before lodging in the right lung. That is the official version held by the Israeli government and accepted by the judges at Yigal Amir's trial.
However the physician notes a fact the Shamgar Commission somehow missed. In order for a bullet shot in the left flank to reach the right lung, it has to pass through the left lung and most likely the heart. If the doctors were so fastidious about noting a secondary wound to the right lung, why didn't they record the entry and exit wounds that must have occurred in the left lung?"
And now the biggest issue of all, spinal shock. Recall that the state pathologist Dr. Yehuda Hiss conducted a limited autopsy on Rabin after Dr. Guttman's team had completed its work and found no damage to the spinal column. Recall also, that based on this conclusion, the Shamgar Commission and the judges at Yigal Amir's trial concluded that Rabin suffered no spinal damage. And finally, recall that the film of the assassination shows Rabin walking after the shot to his back, an impossibility if vertebrae 5 and 6 were shattered as Dr. Guttman reported.
Well, now it's not only Dr. Guttman reporting spinal shock. It's also five other members of his team. Would we could put them all in a courtroom and ask each why they agreed to appear on a report which concluded that Rabin died of spinal shock when the government of Israel's Justice Ministry and courts insist he did not.
I asked the physician, can spinal shock be caused by something other than breakage in the vertebrae or spinal cord? Perhaps a severe bruise or shaking can cause spinal shock. "Out of the question," he replied. "Spinal shock is the trauma resulting from a break or breaks in the spinal column. The breaks can be in the outer vertebrae or in the cord, but there is no other definition of spinal shock."
The physician made another poignant observation. "When the patient arrived, the doctors did not record any symptoms of spinal shock. Again this is possible but hard to understand. One of the first things doctors look for in shooting cases is spinal shock. It's very easy to diagnosis. When the spinal nerves are severed, the blood stops pumping naturally and is forced downward by gravity. So, typically, the upper body is white and the lower body, red. The victim was shot at 9:45 and examined at 10:05. You would expect that twenty minutes after being shot in the spine, spinal shock would be detected and diagnosed."
The physician was reluctant to let me hear what I was waiting all these long months to prove. He would not say that the summation proved there was a third shot at Rabin from the time he was admitted to Ichilov Hospital but he stated, "If I didn't know who the victim was or the circumstances of his death, I think I'd have to conclude that the patient received another wound subsequent to his initial admission. But I would advise you to stress your strongest points and they are that two separate chest wounds are reported by Dr. Guttman and that it is inconceivable that Rabin had no spinal damage. The six members of the operating team were too skilled to have all been wrong about that."
There you have it. It is a certainty that Rabin suffered a frontal chest wound and spinal shock, neither of which Yigal Amir could physically have caused. But there is even more to the documents than just the description of the wounds. There is confirmation of a vital vignette in my book.
I recounted an episode told to me by Zeev Barcella, editor of the country's largest circulation Russian-language newspaper, Vesti. On the morning of the assassination he received a phone call from a Russian-born operating nurse who told him, "The media is lying about Rabin's wounds. I saw them. His spinal cord was shattered and they're saying it wasn't." Ninety minutes later the nurse called Barcella back and with well-remembered fear in her voice said, "I didn't call you before and you don't know who I am." Then she hung up the phone. The newly uncovered documents revealed new names to me of people who were in the operating theater that night. The nurse's first name, Svetlana and her signature were on the surgical summation. By comparing another document I possessed, I discovered her full name, Svetlana Shlimovitz. I found her phone number, introduced myself as best I could and had the following short conversation:
"Svetlana, I would like to know what happened to Rabin in the operating theater."
"How did you get my name?"
"You signed the surgical summation report."
"I don't work there anymore and I can never say what happened. Bye."
And she hung up. Barcella's story was true as well. As was my book. I got it right the first time around.