Yigal Amir, the assassin of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, kept up his running court dialogue with reporters Sunday, endorsing one of many conspiracy theories circulating since the killing a month ago.
“Why don’t you publicize that they killed one of Rabin’s bodyguards?” Amir yelled as he was led into a Tel Aviv court for an extension of his detention without charges. Amir said a guard who shouted “the bullets are dummies” as Amir shot Rabin was later killed.
“I can say something that will destroy everything,” Amir said. “Everything until now was a mask.” In several court appearances since the Nov. 4 shooting in Tel Aviv, Amir has made a point of answering reporters’ questions and making statements to them.
Conspiracy theorists have been circulating reports that one of Rabin’s bodyguards died mysteriously after the slaying, implying that he may have been killed by members of the security services who wanted to cover up the fact that they knew Amir planned to kill the prime minister. The conspiracy theories have been fueled by the disclosure that Avishai Raviv, a right-wing activist who knew Amir well, was an informant for the Shin Bet internal security service for years.
Raviv, who was arrested after Rabin’s assassination but later released, has denied being an informant. But senior members of the security service have confirmed that he was. Some conspiracy theorists believe that Raviv must have known that Amir planned to kill the prime minister and say that he must have passed that information on to his Shin Bet handlers.
According to this theory, Shin Bet, which provides bodyguards for the prime minister, wanted to catch Amir in the act of trying to assassinate Rabin. Under this scenario, Shin Bet agents are said to have replaced the bullets in Amir’s gun with blanks and to have not known that Amir discovered the switch and returned lethal bullets to the Beretta he used in the shooting.
Government spokesman Uri Dromi dismissed the story as “utter nonsense.” He said none of Rabin’s bodyguards have died since the shooting.
Witnesses said it was Amir who shouted that the bullets were dummies after firing at Rabin three times at close range. Rabin later died of massive internal injuries at nearby Ichilov Hospital. Amir, 25, is a devout Jew who was active in right-wing protests against the government’s peace agreement with the Palestinians. Amir said he killed Rabin because the prime minister was handing control of parts of the West Bank to the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Judge Dan Arbel extended Amir’s remand for four more days Sunday, half of what the police asked for.
Investigator Arieh Silverman said police have important new evidence “that could change the nature of the charges” that must be investigated before charges are filed.
Before extending the remand, Arbel asked Amir if he had anything to add.
“I did not think they would start killing people,” Amir said. “They are killing people, don’t you understand?” he shouted.
“You are killing people,” Arbel replied.
Also Sunday, three leaders of the right-wing Zo Artzeinu protest movement were indicted on rare charges of sedition.
Moshe Feiglin, Rabbi Benny Elon and Shmuel Sackett were charged with making rebellious statements against the government. Right-wing leaders immediately denounced the indictments as anti-democratic attempts by the government to suppress legitimate dissent.
Feiglin and Elon founded Zo Artzeinu to spearhead acts of civil disobedience against the government in protest of the Israeli-Palestinian peace accord. This summer, the group snarled traffic across the country by blocking key highways. It also conducted a number of mass demonstrations and handed out anti-government booklets.
In one bizarre protest, the group asked its supporters to turn all their electrical appliances on at a certain time, hoping to disrupt the nation’s electrical system. The country’s electric company reported no power surge at the appointed time.
Settlers and right-wing politicians have complained since Rabin’s slaying that there is a backlash against members of the religious right, fueled by a government crackdown on right-wing activists and rabbis who have harshly condemned the government’s peace policies.
The government says it is simply actively enforcing existing laws in order to curb right-wing violence and prevent any further political assassinations.
“There’s a difference between freedom of speech and strong-arming,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Eli Dayan, speaking after the Zo Artzeinu leaders were indicted. “Zo Artzeinu is a bully. It cannot just decide in a systematic way not to recognize the legitimacy of an elected government.”