Rabin’s tenure as IDF Chief of Staff was marked by the rapid military growth of Arab states and their growing arsenal of Soviet weapons. His primary task was to prepare the IDF for the possibility of a total war. He engaged in equipping the IDF with innovative American weapons and technologies and training for coordinated, multi-force military action.At the same time, he worked diligently in preparing operational plans that would serve the IDF whenever and wherever necessary. All these withstood the challenge faced by the IDF in the days and months preceding its rapid and unprecedented victory during the Six-Day War.

One of the flash points was found in the Galilee, following attempts by Lebanon and Syria to divert the headwaters of the Jordan River flowing through Israeli territory. Rabin opposed any initiative that included occupying Syrian territory. He directed the IDF’s response toward disabling the mechanical equipment employed by the Syrians and their allies to divert the water.

Another campaign that Rabin was required to wage war against the Fatah, the military arm of the PLO, which was created in 1964. Since Fatah had established its bases in Syria and it was from there that the terrorists infiltrated for attacks in Israel, Rabin felt fully justified in acting against the Syrians. Rabin’s remarks in a press interview against the Syrian regime provoked a harsh response. They were later perceived as a factor that accelerated the preparations for war in Israel. In the face of attacks against the Israeli civilian population, Rabin was reluctant to order a response against the enemy’s civilian infrastructures. Nevertheless, in November 1966, he approved a reprisal against the Jordanian village of Samu’a, during which many Jordanians, soldiers, and civilians were killed.

At the end of 1966, after a three-year term as Chief of Staff, the Prime Minister decided to extend Rabin’s tenure another year.

Photo: IDF and Defense System Archives, Avraham Vared

Photo: IDF and Defense System Archives, Avraham Vared

Photo: Archives of the IDF and the Defense System

Photo: Courtesy of Rachel Rabin-Yaakov

צילום: יוסף גבע

"It can be said that the IDF is an instrument by which a good and daring Chief of Staff could achieve the nearly impossible."

1967 – Chief of Staff during the Six-Day War

The Six-Day War in June 1967 broke out during Rabin’s fourth year serving as Chief of Staff. At the start of that same year, no one thought about war, certainly not with Egypt. At the center of the tensions stood the continued aggression on the northern border. The Israeli Air Force was called into action in reaction to hostile Syrian activity. In an aerial battle conducted on April 7, 1967, IAF pilots downed six Syrian MiG 21 jet fighters. In response, Egypt, bound by a defense pact with Syria, began calling up its reserves. The deployment of an Egyptian military force into the Sinai Desert contradicted agreements reached following the 1956 Sinai Crisis. Rabin viewed this as a casus belli and recommended mobilizing the reserves. Egypt’s president, Gamal Abdel Nasser, demanded that the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) leave the Sinai and ordered the Straits of Tiran closed to Israeli shipping. From Israel’s standpoint, this was a declaration of war. The situation continued to deteriorate rapidly, and war became inevitable.

Rabin was fully confident in the strength of the IDF to be victorious, and the army under his command was charged and ready for battle. The cost of the reserve call-up was heavy on the country. The public was anxious. The General Staff was pressuring for a preemptive strike. Despite this, Rabin understood the need to afford the government every opportunity to seek a diplomatic resolution to the crisis. Senior leaders with whom he was consulting undermined his confidence in the IDF’s ability to go to war without the backing of a friendly power. Torn between his recognition of the need to launch a preemptive strike and his awareness of the obligation to obey the directives of the nation’s political echelon while working around the clock and smoking incessantly, fell into a state of exhaustion. He found it difficult to continue his duties. However, after a 24-hour respite, he returned to his post.

The public’s anxiety during the “Waiting Period” led to the establishment of the “National Unity Government.” Prime Minister and Defense Minister Levy Eshkol was forced to resign as Defense Minister, and Moshe Dayan was appointed to the position. On June 4, the government authorized the IDF to launch its offensive.

The next day, June 5, in an operation encompassing nearly all of the air arsenal of the IDF, IAF forces conducted a coordinated attack against the airfields and air forces of Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Jordan, with devasting results. Following the surprise attack, the path was now open for armored and infantry forces to break through Egyptian lines in the Sinai Desert. The Egyptian army was defeated within a few days and withdrew back across the Suez Canal. Following several attacks by the Jordanian army around Jerusalem, a second front was opened. After two days of combat, IDF forces occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem and reached the Western Wall. After having defeated the armies of Egypt and Jordan on the fifth day of the war, the IDF attacked Syrian forces on the Golan Heights. After completing the capture of the Heights, a ceasefire entered into effect. It removed the threat faced by the communities of the Galilee region.


1992- Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the Second Term of Office

Israel Waits for Rabin

As a citizen, an opposition MK, disengaged from the decision-making centers, Rabin monitored the “Gulf War,” which changed the balance of power in the Middle East. The reaction of the Israeli homefront enhanced his feelings that the Israeli public had tired of wars and was ready to pay the price for peace. The collapse of the Soviet Union, which was a primary entity in the anti-Israel activity in the region, he saw as a historic opportunity for advancing peace. In the agreement obtained between the superpowers at the Madrid Conference in October 1991, he viewed this trend as an enhancement. He reasoned that a window of opportunity for peace was created in the new circumstances. Time was of the essence and should be exhausted before nuclear weapons reached the region and would endanger the nation’s existence.

The wave of aliyah from the Soviet Union and the inherent economic potential strengthened his understanding that now Israel could take risks. He knew that courageous leadership was required for this and believed himself capable of the task. After his victory over Shimon Peres in the Labor Party’s primaries, the party engaged in an intensive election campaign. Enjoying his status as a man of his word, “Mr. Security” striving toward peace, who has earned wide-ranging public trust, Rabin led the campaign under the slogan “Israel Waits for Rabin.”

“We are in a period of danger in which unconventional weapons will make their way to the Middle East… Therefore, in the next 7-10 years, we must move the diplomatic process forward.”

Again Prime Minister

The upheaval that returned the Labor Party to power returned Rabin to the prime minister’s office. education, welfare, infrastructures, peripheral communities, and the Arab sector were increased significantly at the expense of the budget for the settlements and the defense budget. The receipt of guarantees from the United States for absorbing Soviet immigrants facilitated the execution of his plans and breathed life into the country’s economy. His support for the economy’s privatization earned him well-earned enthusiasm from the business sector.

Determined to integrate Israel quickly into the era of global reconciliation, lead a bold political course for peace with the neighboring countries and resolve the Palestinian problem, he announced his willingness for territorial concessions. He immediately renewed peace talks with the Palestinians and Syrians that began after the Madrid Conference. He saw the Palestinian issue as the heart of the conflict. Still, when it became clear to him that the discussions with the territories’ representatives in Washington reached an impasse, he advanced the Syrian track, hoping that its existence would also encourage and accelerate progress in the Palestinian track.

His defense policy moved along two parallel tracks. While initiating some relief in the life of the civilian population, he continued an aggressive policy against terrorists and rioters. In an extraordinary move, he decided to deport 415 Hamas members involved in terror attacks. On Katusha rocket attacks in the north, he responded with Operation “Accountability” (which in Hebrew is known as “Mivtza Din VeHeshbon”).

When he was informed of secret peace talks being held in Oslo, he approved their continuation despite his doubts and made them an official communications channel. He approved the addition of the PLO as a party to the agreement only after a Letter of Undertaking from Yassir Arafat on the PLO’s recognition of the State of Israel and its departure from the path of terrorism.

On September 13, 1993, in a festive ceremony on the White House lawn attended by the President of the United States, Bill Clinton, the “Oslo Agreement” was signed. The agreement laid the foundation for a permanent agreement that would include the creation of a Palestinian national entity alongside the State of Israel. The speeches by Rabin and Arafat and their historic handshake constituted the ceremony’s highlight. They became a symbol of hope in Israel and around the world. Alongside the expressions of joy and delight, the agreement caused anxiety because of its inherent risks. It sharpened the dispute between the supporters of the move and its opponents. The settlers led the political and public protests against the agreement. he massacre carried out by a radical Israeli against Muslim worshippers in the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron reflected the growing tension in Israeli society. Rabin considered dismantling the Jewish settlement in Hebron but eventually decided against the idea.

Photography: Yossi Roth

Photo: Yaakov Sa'ar, Government Press Office

Photo: Zvika Israeli, Government Press Office

Photo: Avi Ohion, Government Press Office

Photo: Avi Ohion, Government Press Office

Photo: Avi Ohion, Government Press Office

Photo: Yaakov Sa'ar, Government Press Office

Photo: Meir Azoulai, Yedioth Ahronoth

Photo: Israel Sun Ltd

Photography: Yitzhak Harari

Photography: Yitzhak Harari

צילום: לשכת העיתונות הממשלתית

A Peace Agreement with Jordan Upon signing the Gaza-Jericho Agreement and recognizing the Palestinians as a national entity, conditions matured for a peace treaty with Jordan. The relations with the Kingdom of Jordan were built over many long years of secret talks between King Hussein and Israeli leaders and among them Rabin. In May 1994, a decisive secret meeting was held between Rabin and Hussein, where the foundations were laid for a peace treaty. The generous aid promised by the United States to Jordan gave the final nudge to the process. On October 26, 1994, a peace treaty signed in the Arava determined the final borders between the two countries. The agreement was an important part of developing new relations with the Arab states and additional Muslim countries. Repeated suicide attacks by Palestinian opponents of the agreement, who killed and injured innocent civilians in major city centers throughout Israel, caused severe harm to the hope that an era of growth and prosperity would open up for the entire region. "Not only are our countries making peace with each other today, not only are our people shaking hands in peace here at the Arava. You and I are making peace; our peace, the peace of soldiers, the peace of friends." The Oslo II Accord Receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize in December 1994 symbolized the admiration and respect of the people of the world for the peacemakers. It expressed a sense of hope and encouragement they would continue on their path to bring the difficult process to a conclusion. But the public mood in Israel was different. Renewal of the peace talks with Syria created a new faction of opponents that opposed any concessions on the Golan Heights. The terrorist attacks continued and even increased, and the rift in Israeli society deepened. Still, Rabin was determined to continue the course. In September 1995, an agreement was reached concerning the schedule for implementing the Oslo Agreement signed in Washington and known as the "Oslo II Accord." The agreement's opponents prepared to forestall the process. They organized demonstrations and rallies against the agreement and its initiator, Yitzhak Rabin. Expressions of incitement made by demonstrators led radicals to interpret this as a statement toward the implementation of his demise
"You don't make peace with friends. You make it with very unsavory enemies."

1984 – Defense Minister

Following the elections that took place on July 23, 1984, in which none of the large parties received a sufficient number of mandates to form a government, a National Unity Government was formed. According to the Likud and Labor Party agreement, Shimon Peres was the first to serve as prime minister. At the end of a two-year term, he would pass the position onto Yitzhak Shamir.

Peres appointed Rabin as Defense Minister, and he was reappointed for the position by Shamir until the conclusion of the third National Unity Government headed by Shamir in 1990.

During his term in office, he initiated a gradual withdrawal from Lebanon. He established the IDF’s hold on the Security Zone. In contrast to his predecessors, he agreed to a cut in the defense budget, which became possible after Egypt’s exit from the cycle of aggression. His consent for the “Jibril Deal,” which led to the release of 1,150 Palestinian prisoners in return for three Israeli prisoners, caused public debate. Still, the responsibility for the lives of the Israeli prisoners tipped the scale in favor of the deal’s approval.

When the Intifada first broke out, he did not identify its uniqueness. In its first months, he believed that a military solution was available to put down this popular uprising through the use of force. In the eyes of the left, his policy was deemed immoral and futile, while the right saw it as insufficient.

After several months of struggle, he became convinced that this uprising expressed authentic Palestinian national aspirations that Israel could no longer ignore. The Palestinians’ willingness to absorb losses surprised him. It led to an understanding that the policy of force alone would not bring about the desired quiet. He was mindful of the growth of local Palestinian leadership. He saw it as an interlocutor for diplomatic negotiations for the first time. At the same time, his fears and concerns grew regarding the Intifada’s impact on the fighting spirit of the IDF and its status as the people’s army.

In 1989 he formulated a two-phase peace initiative, which proposed to enable elections for the local Palestinian leadership in the territories that, since the Camp David Accords had operated as a Palestinian autonomy and would guarantee the area’s quiet. According to the initiative, negotiations would be conducted with elected leadership toward a permanent settlement in the second phase. Under American pressure, the plan gained the support of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir. The National Unity Government was dismantled in 1990, and the Labor Party returned to the benches of the opposition.

Photo: Archives of the IDF and the Defense Establishment, Mickey Tzarfati

Photo: Yuval Navon

Photo: Natan Alpert, Government Press Office

“It is easier to solve a military issue. It is harder to solve an issue affecting 1.4 million people - a civilian population that does not want our rule.”

1968 – Ambassador to the United States of America

In the early months of 1968, after 27 years of military service, Yitzhak Rabin no longer wore a uniform. Subsequently, he was appointed to his first civilian position as Israel’s ambassador to the United States. The first year of his term was marked by that year’s presidential elections in the United States. Rabin utilized the time to study the mechanisms of the American government, become acquainted with prominent individuals in the American media, and develop bonds with the Jewish communities and important Jewish organizational leaders.

In contrast to the tradition of Jewish support for the Democratic Party, Rabin gave his open support to Richard Nixon, the Republican presidential candidate. An earlier acquaintance with him and monitoring his positions during the campaign strengthened his assessment that Nixon would be a better ally for Israel. Nixon’s victory and his selection of Henry Kissinger as head of the National Security Council created the conditions for Rabin’s greatest achievements as ambassador. Despite the serious tension created during this period between Israel and the United States surrounding the government’s plans for arrangements in the Middle East, to which Israel objected, Rabin succeeded in fostering special relations between the two countries. His activity toward achieving the agreement of Golda Meir’s government for a ceasefire on the Suez Canal contributed to removing the American embargo on deliveries of Phantom jets to Israel.

In September 1970, through talks with Rabin, Nixon requested Israel to assist King Hussein of Jordan in thwarting Palestinian and Syrian attempts to threaten his rule. Rabin supported the request and worked to gain the Prime Minister’s concession, even at the cost of war with Syria. Ultimately, Hussein successfully repressed the “Black September” insurgency. Still, Israel’s willingness to assist him significantly enhanced the collaboration between Israel and the United States, facilitated an increase in American economic aid, and improved the king’s relations with Israel.

Like her predecessor, Levi Eshkol, Golda also saw in Rabin, an ambassador who had a unique status and thus established a direct line of communications with him.

In the second half of his tenure, Rabin based his status as a diplomat and a candidate for senior political roles in Israel. He learned to appreciate American democracy and the achievements of the free market economy. His relations with government leaders and the Jewish communities grew, winning him sincere admiration.

The death of Egypt’s president, Gamal Abdel Nasser, in 1970 and the election of Anwar Sadat to the position altered the political reality in the Middle East. The American administration saw this as a window of opportunity to promote arrangements between Israel and its neighbors and increased its activity to obtain interim agreements. Rabin supported the idea of progressing toward peace in phases and was aware of the possibilities inherent in Sadat’s proposals for a settlement with Israel. He believed that an IDF withdrawal inland into the depths of the Sinai Desert and reopening the Suez Canal would also open the way for a settlement with Egypt and consequently strengthen the alliance with the United States. Rabin cautioned that its rejection of the American plan would lead to a coerced arrangement or even renewed conflagration. Golda and her ministers stood firm behind their position.

The election campaign for the 8th Knesset was imminent, and Rabin expressed his desire to return home.

In March 1973, after five years as the nation’s ambassador, Yitzhak Rabin returned to Israel and joined the Israel Labor Party. Ahead of the December elections, the party’s “Nominations Committee” placed him in the 20th spot among the list of candidates headed by Golda Meir. Approximately a month and a half before the expected elections, it became clear that Israel was not facing an election but rather an all-out war.

On October 6, 1973, the Yom Kippur War broke out unexpectedly. It was the first time Rabin did not hold a position or authority. His attempts to be seconded to this or that commander was unsuccessful. On the fourth day of the war, he accepted Finance Minister Pinchas Sapir’s offer to head up the “Emergency Loan Fund” to raise funds for the war’s expenses.

In the elections that were held that December, immediately after the war, the Labor Party lost its strength but nevertheless proved successful in assembling a government again, and Rabin was appointed Labor Minister in Golda's second government. On April 2 of that year, the Agranat Commission, charged with investigating the failures of the Yom Kippur War, published its report. The commission avoided discussing the role of the political echelon and laid the blame squarely on the military leadership. Rabin publicly disapproved of the commission's decision to place full responsibility for the failure on the shoulders of Chief of Staff David Elazar. Public opinion did not accept the report's conclusions. Demonstrations that started with a few grew louder, and a demand was also heard to hold the political echelon responsible. Under the pressure of the events, on April 11, 1974, Prime Minister Golda Meir announced her resignation, and the Labor Party was forced to appoint her replacement. Rabin was a surprise candidate for the senior position; however, his distance from involvement in the war's failures and the support his candidacy received from a respectable group of Mapai veteran politicians placed him above the other candidates. He was elected by the party to take the place of Golda Meir as the country's Prime Minister.
"I am convinced that the weight of our relations with the United States, the strongest nation in the western world, and its Jewry will continue to strengthen."

1995 – The Assassination of the Prime Minister of the State of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin

Shalom Haver

The faction supporting the peace process that cautiously and hopefully accompanied the discussions’ progress was horrified by the intensity of the attack by those opposing the agreements and decided that the time had come to give expression to the broad public support for the government’s moves.

A November 4, 1995 rally drew crowds to the Kings of Israel Square in Tel Aviv. The demonstrators expressed their support for the agreements and Rabin’s leadership. Although initially, Rabin showed little enthusiasm for a support rally, he agreed to the organizers’ invitation to deliver a speech from the rally’s stage. In the presence of the cheering masses, he sensed that he enjoyed a tremendous amount of grassroots support. At the end of the rally, on his way back to his car, a Jewish assassin fired three bullets into his back.

The Prime Minister of the State of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin, was assassinated.

On Saturday evening, November 4, 1995, 12 Heshvan 5756, Yitzhak Rabin arrived at the Kings of Israel Square in Tel Aviv to participate in a mass rally that bore the slogan “Yes to Peace, No to Violence.”

At the end of a heartwarming and enthusiastic rally in which the masses demonstrated their faith and love for him, Yitzhak Rabin was shot on his way to a waiting vehicle and critically wounded by a Jewish assassin.

Yitzhak Rabin died at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov) at 23:14 after the doctors’ efforts to save him were of no avail.

Tel Aviv – immediately after the assassination, many Israelis began to flow toward the Kings of Israel Square. Young people and adults, religious and secular, left and right-wing, residents of the country’s center and the periphery, veteran Israels and new immigrants, Jews and Arabs all gathered to mourn in the square, light a candle, paint wall graffiti, sing songs, and shed a tear. A week after the assassination, the citizens gave the square its current name, “Rabin Square.” At the end of that same week, the City of Tel Aviv-Jaffa made this decision official.

Jerusalem – the day following the assassination, Yitzhak Rabin’s casket was placed in front of the Knesset building. From that Sunday morning until his funeral on Monday afternoon, tens of thousands of citizens came to Jerusalem to pay their respects and say goodbye.

Photo: Avi Ohion, Government Press Office

Photography: Dina Gona

Photography: Dina Gona

Photography: Dina Gona

Photo: Amir Gilboa

Photo: Amir Gilboa

Photo: Amir Gilboa

Photo: Avi Ohion, Government Press Office

Photo: Avi Ohion, Government Press Office.

Photo: Avi Ohion, Government Press Office

Photo: Yaakov Sa'ar, Government Press Office

Photo: Zvika Israeli, Government Press Office

Photo: Zvika Israeli, Government Press Office

"Violence erodes the basis of Israel's democracy."

1974 – Rabin’s First Term as Israel’s Prime Minister

The First Term as Israel’s Prime Minister

Rabin entered his term as prime minister on June 3, 1974. During his three-year term of office, he led a policy that expressed a continuity of the Labor Party’s leadership in the government, a generational change of the guard, and a willingness for changes.

He saw the renewal of the diplomatic initiative and progress toward peace as a necessary task. He started negotiating with Egypt on an interim agreement, mediated by the American Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger. The agreement, one of his most notable achievements as prime minister, was reached after difficult negotiations, fraught with crises, and signed on September 1, 1975. Subsequently, Rabin would come to see it as the first step toward a full peace agreement with Egypt that was signed four years later by the Likud government headed by Menachem Begin. Following the signing of the interim agreement, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was obtained with the American administration led by President Gerald Ford, in which the United States made several far-reaching commitments to Israel’s security and economy.

In his attempts to promote talks with neighboring states, Rabin secretly conferred with King Hussein. He conducted the first clandestine visit of an Israeli prime minister to the king of Morocco.

While working to promote peace, Rabin also found it necessary to cope with PLO terrorist activity against Israeli citizens. He opposed any negotiations with the PLO and argued that the Palestinian problem would be resolved through the Jordanian option. Against the organization’s Palestinian supporters, he took an uncompromising “strong arm” policy.

During his second year in office, “Gush Emunim” activists established a settlement in Sebastia in Samaria. Although Rabin disagreed with the concept of Jewish settlement amid Arab population centers, he avoided entering into a harsh confrontation with the settlers. After some hesitancy, he approved establishing a Jewish settlement in Kadum. Thus paving the way for continued settlement activity, which he opposed.

Up north, "Land Day," which occurred on March 30, 1976, was a demonstration and strike by Galilee Arabs against appropriating their lands. Security forces responded with live fire during the riots, and six protestors were killed. The incident aroused harsh responses from the Arab public and among the Jews, convincing Rabin that it was time to reexamine the country's relations with its Arab minority. At the same time, economic growth continued, the social security net was maintained, and the societal disparities decreased throughout his term of office. These successes were met with the public's appreciation. The operation at Entebbe for the release of the abductees from the "Air France" airplane enhanced his prestige around the world. Still, the corruption scandals in the top levels of his party and the residual anger from the Yom Kippur War that was tied to it overshadowed his government's achievements and enraged many. On December 10, 1976, the first F-15 jetfighters arrived from the United States. Their landing after the start of the Shabbat caused a crisis with the coalition's religious parties. In the hope that moving the elections forward would increase his party's strength, Rabin handed his resignation to the president on December 21. Until the elections for a new Knesset, his government acted as a transitional government. While preparing for the elections, his wife's bank account in the United States was discovered, an act that was viewed as illegal at the time. Following her prosecution, Rabin decided, after three years in office, to resign from his position. Shimon Peres was appointed as his replacement. Rabin's decision to share the responsibility for his wife's violation garnered extensive public admiration.
"I cannot currently be the party's candidate for prime minister. Not because of the offense's gravity… but because I committed a technical offense. I must be true to my upbringing, tradition, my creed. I must pay the price. Like every citizen, especially as the prime minister, who must have the public's trust to assume another term in office."

1977 – As an Opposition Parliamentarian

Following the Knesset elections held on May 17, 1977, it became clear that the Labor Party had been removed from power. For the first time, the Likud, headed by Menahem Begin, was charged with assembling the government. The Labor Party moved to the benches of the opposition. As a Member of Knesset (MK), Rabin was amazed by Sadat’s visit to Israel. Despite his reservations regarding the clauses relating to the withdrawal of settlements from the Sinai, he supported the peace treaty with Egypt in the Knesset.

In 1979 he published his memoirs, “The Rabin Memoirs” (in Hebrew, the book was titled “Pinkas Sherut”), in which he summarized his pathway in the military and settled accounts with his political adversaries of the day, particularly Shimon Peres. In a small office in the Defense Ministry offices in Tel Aviv, which was allocated to him as a former prime minister, he spent time writing for newspapers, meeting with old friends, and breathing life into his faction and supporters in the party.

Once more active in party politics, he threw his support behind Yigal Allon, the Labor Party candidate for prime minister, in advance of the general elections scheduled for June 1981. However, Allon’s sudden passing in February 1980 led him to declare his candidacy. While Peres won the party’s nomination, the Likud won the elections. While Peres won the party’s nomination, the Likud won the elections.

On June 6, 1982, Operation Peace in Galilee began to protect the communities of the north. Rabin supported its initial phases; however, as the war continued and its objectives expanded, he warned against the IDF becoming mired in the Lebanese “mud.” He demanded the army’s withdrawal to a security zone from which it could defend Israel’s northern border.

"The opposition is a very important institution in a democratic country and certainly in ours. If there is no choice, you have to sit in the opposition and do the work.''

1922 – Childhood and Family

Yitzhak Rabin was born on March 1, 1922, in Jerusalem. His parent, Rosa Cohen and Nehemiah Rabin, were pioneers of the Third Aliya. Nehemiah worked for the Electric Company, and Rosa was employed as a bookkeeper; however, most of their efforts were directed toward volunteer public service. Rosa

filled several senior positions in the “Haganah,” the Tel Aviv Municipality, the Histadrut, and the education system. She was known throughout the Yishuv by her nickname, “Red Rosa.” Nehemiah filled positions in the “Haganah” and the Histadrut.

n 1923, the family moved to Tel Aviv, where Rabin spent his childhood, where in 1925, his sister Rachel was born. When he was 15 years old, his mother died after an illness.

In his parent’s home, he absorbed a system of values that guided him throughout his lifetime.

“It was during my childhood that I formulated a sense of responsibility for the position, a love of the landscape and the Land of Israel, a sense of camaraderie.”

School Years

In 1928, Rabin began his studies at the “Beit Hahinuch for Workers’ Children” in Tel Aviv, which became his second home. The school aimed to shape the world of the Israeli “sabra,” the contemporary Jew, bound to the landscape of the Land of Israel, working its land, defending against those who would scheme against it, and ready to mobilize for any mission. An emphasis was placed on combining studies and work, touring, and social activity.

The activity in the “Noar HaOved” youth movement was an inseparable part of the students’ lives. In its framework, Rabin became familiar with the teachings of Jewish socialists and trained for fulfillment in the kibbutz.

Photo: Courtesy of Rachel Rabin-Yaakov

Photo: Courtesy of Rachel Rabin-Yaakov

Photo: Courtesy of Rachel Rabin-Yaakov

Photo: Courtesy of Rachel Rabin-Yaakov

Photo: Courtesy of Rachel Rabin-Yaakov

His agricultural studies were a natural extension of his education at the “Beit Hahinuch for Workers’ Children.” For nearly two years, he studied at the district agricultural school at Givat Hashlosha, and in 1937 reached his goal, admittance to the “Kadoorie” School in Kfar Tavor, where many of the Labor Movement’s illustrious sons were educated. At Kadoorie, Rabin became acquainted with Yigal Allon, who recruited him into the “Haganah” and with whom he developed a close friendship. It was a school known for its high academic standards and distinctive experience that developed between its students and teachers. Rabin quickly stood out due to his talents. The honors certificate he received at the end of his studies paved his way to higher education. However, World War II broke out, and the fear of its consequences for the reality in Israel increased; he gave up his plans and joined Kibbutz Ramat Yochanan. In May 1941, he was called to participate in a military operation in Lebanon designed to assist the British Army It was his first baptism of fire.
“At the age when loves blooms, at sixteen, I was given a rifle to defend my life and, regretfully, to kill at the hour of danger… I thought a water engineer was an important profession in the arid Middle East…. But I was compelled to hold a rifle.”

1941 – A Soldier and Commander in the Palmach

The summer of 1941 saw the establishment of the Palmach, and Yitzhak Rabin was among the first to join its ranks. In 1943, several months after the Germans’ defeat at the Battle of El Alamein, the collaboration between the British Army and the “Haganah” ended. The Palmach was required to finance its activity by working on kibbutzim. The new arrangement led to concern among the Palmach units, who were forced into inaction. At the same time, those enlisting in the British Army would see action in the war against Hitler. Rabin was among those who stayed in the Palmach and saw the establishment of an independent Jewish fighting force in the Land of Israel as the primary assignment of his generation.

With the Palmach’s expansion and organization into battalions, Rabin was promoted to serve as deputy commander of the 1st Battalion.

At the end of the Second World War, the Yishuv’s leadership decided upon a new defense policy, the primary focus of which was a “close struggle” to achieve the fundamental goals of Zionism – immigration (aliyah) and settlement. As a part of this initiative, the “Haganah” established new settlements and illegal immigration (aka “Aliyah Bet.”) The conflict with the British was unavoidable: Many of the boats carrying illegal immigrants on their way to the Land of Israel were unsuccessful in breaking the British blockade, leading to the immigrants, Holocaust survivors, being forcibly disembarked and imprisoned in the detention camp at Atlit. In 1945, in an operation to release the detainees initiated by the “Haganah,” Rabin commanded the force that infiltrated the camp at Atlit. The operation was a success, and the immigrants were released. It was during this operation that Rabin first came face to face with Holocaust survivors.

In 1946, the leadership of the Yishuv decided it was time to step up the struggle against the British. The Jewish Resistance Movement was established as part of an alliance between the “Haganah,” “Etzel,” and “Lehi” underground movements. Following a series of operations, the British struck back: On June 29, 1946, in a well-planned and vast British military operation, known in the collective memory as the “Black Sabbath,” the Yishuv’s leadership was detained, and large stockpiles of weapons were confiscated. With his father, Rabin was arrested and held for approximately five months. Immediately following his release, he was promoted to command Palmach’s 2nd Battalion. In October 1947, he became Palmach’s Chief of Operations.

"The Palmach, in its way of life, cultivated a generation of Sabras as volunteers, a generation prepared to work to sustain itself. It cultivated a new type of Israeli, a worthy role model for youngsters. I'm talking about the need to be satisfied with little and that naive and true willingness, which my friends and I had, to sacrifice ourselves for the people…."

1948 – Independence

A Commander during the War of Independence

On November 29, 1947, the General Assembly of the United Nations approved a resolution calling for the partition of the Land of Israel (then known as Mandatory Palestine) and the establishment of a Jewish State and an Arab State. The Jews accepted the proposal, while the Arabs rejected it and initiated attacks on Jewish targets to thwart its implementation. The War of Independence began.

As the Palmach’s Chief of Operations and charged with coordinating with the General Staff, Rabin dealt primarily with reinforcing the Palmach forces with weaponry and personnel and securing the route to Jerusalem that was subject to infinite attacks from within the Arab villages spread out along the route.

In the early days of April 1948, he was seconded to the “Harel” Division of the Palmach and shortly afterward promoted to serve as “Harel” HQ commander. He warned against the line of defense taken up in transferring the convoys to Jerusalem and called for a more aggressive stance vis-a-vis the villages serving as bases for the convoy’s attackers. During that same month, the “Harel Brigade” was established, and Rabin, at the age of 24, was promoted to serve its commander. Four days later, a decision was reached to implement Operation “Yevusi,” which was intended to assert control over Jerusalem immediately upon the withdrawal of British forces. Tens of his soldiers fell in battle during the harsh battles within the city and on the roadways leading into it. On May 14, 1948, the day of the declaration of the state, Rabin found himself in the company of his exhausted fighters at the command post near Kibbutz Ma’ale Ha-Hamisha.

On June 11, the first ceasefire took effect, under which a makeshift detour to Jerusalem known as “the Burma Road” was established by soldiers from the “Harel” Brigade and alleviated the siege over Jerusalem. On July 9, “Operation Danny” began leading to Lod and Ramla’s occupation. Yitzhak Rabin served as Chief of Operations and deputy to the operation’s commander, Yigal Allon. The sight of the refugees being driven out of their homes with their belongings severely impacted IDF soldiers.

During the second of the war's ceasefires, the Palmach headquarters were dismantled amid a harsh debate, and its division integrated into the various IDF units. Now, as part of the Israel Defense Forces, the Palmach prepared to liberate the Negev. Rabin took advantage of the ceasefire and, on July 19, married his girlfriend, Leah Schlossberg. Yigal Allon was promoted to command the Southern Command and joined by most of Palmach's senior commanders, Rabin, who was assigned as Allon's deputy and Chief of Operations. As part of his position, he managed large-scale operations against the Egyptian Army. As the battles continued, Rabin was dispatched to the armistice talks in Rhodes as Allon's representative. It was his first diplomatic assignment. In advance of the agreements' signing, he requested to return to Israel and not be among the signatories because he could not wholeheartedly support the impending withdrawal. His strong desire to play a significant role in Operation "Uvda," which was scheduled to begin and of which he was one of its planners. In July 1949, the War of Independence ended after signing the armistice agreement with Syria. Rabin was 27 years old and forced to decide his future. Despite being awarded an academic scholarship and requesting to further his studies, he decided to continue his military service.
"The most difficult moments I ever faced were when I was commander of the Harel Brigade."

1949 – IDF Service

In November 1949, Yitzhak Rabin was promoted to the position of commander of the battalion commanders’ course. Many of the first battalion commanders’ course participants were Palmach alumni, who Rabin had convinced to continue fulfilling command positions in the IDF, and thus preserve the spirit of the Palmach and its values. Rabin’s success in this position opened before him the pathway to promotions in the IDF.

In early 1951, he was promoted to Chief of Operations in the General Staff Branch. During this period, he stood out as an outstanding staff officer who was familiar with every detail in the many areas where he bore responsibility and was a senior partner in shaping the IDF’s defense doctrine.

As a candidate for senior command positions, he was sent in November 1952 to the United Kingdom to study at the British Army Staff College. Shortly following his return in 1953, Rabin was promoted by the new Chief of Staff, Moshe Dayan, as head of the Training Branch. In this position, he worked to integrate the experience gained in both the Palmach and the British Army, established the training infrastructure in the IDF, was one of the founders of the Command and Staff College (per the Hebrew acronym PUM), and set new standards for educating commanders.

In 1956, he was promoted to command the Northern Command. He was responsible, among other things, for securing Israeli control over demilitarized zones between Israel and Syria, preserving Israeli fishing rights in the Sea of Galilee, and defending the kibbutzim, moshavim, and other communities subject to shelling. During the October 1956 Sinai Campaign, he remained in the north to prepare the forces under his command in advance of a possible opening of an additional front.

In January 1958, when Haim Laskov was selected as Chief of Staff and Zvi Tsur, his deputy, Rabin sensed that his advancement in the military had been delayed and planned finally to leave the military for academic studies, but it was not to be. In April 1959, a radio broadcast mistakenly and without advanced knowledge announced the codenames of units recruited for a military exercise. The publication caused panic among the Israeli public and an emergency call-up of Egyptian and Syrian military units. Following the fiasco nicknamed “the Night of the Ducks,” the commander of the Operations Branch was relieved of duty, and Rabin was promoted to the position.

During his term as head of the Operations Branch, Rabin formulated an overall IDF combat doctrine, adjusted to technological developments and those in the Middle East while expanding the sources of IDF equipment acquisition and advanced weapon systems. Furthermore, he instituted the practice of conducting joint multi-force maneuvers. He was active in all issues concerning the day-to-day defense of the country’s borders, whether on the northern front in the war for water against the Syrians or in the south against the offensive initiatives executed by the Egyptian Army. As part of his quest for rapid modernization of the IDF, the Center of Computing and Mechanized Registration (per the Hebrew acronym MARAM) was established during his tenure, following which the first computer was introduced to the IDF. He also advanced relations between the IDF and third-world militaries such as Ethiopia, the Congo, and Iran during this period. In 1961, following the selection of Zvi Tsur to the rank of Chief of Staff, Rabin was promoted, in addition to serving as head of the Operations Branch, to serve as the Deputy Chief of Staff. His promotions gave public expression to his senior status in the military establishment. He was labeled as the leading candidate for the position of Chief of Staff. In June 1963, Levi Eshkol was elected Prime Minister. The government approved his appointment as Chief of Staff in December of that year.