Article author: Miky Weinberg – Owner of the Tarantula Technologies Ltd and Octagon Security Ltd Companies.
27 years have passed since that evening on November 4, 1995, an evening when the citizen Yigal Amir succeeded in assassinating the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin with the help of a gun in his possession and two precise and deadly bullets fired from a distance of 30 cm from the Prime Minister’s back. For the past 8 years, I have been lecturing on the assassination of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin to many graduates and students. In between lectures I find myself understanding more and more what happened to us and can supply better and more correct explanations. This year I was selected to head a professional debate where I was asked to talk about the period before November 4, 1995, when I functioned as a close protection specialist and try to explain the reasons for the failure and whether they are related to the characteristics and conduct of the close protection unit in the years before the assassination.
The Israel Security Agency’s close protection unit was established in 1958 as a lesson from an incident in which an Israeli citizen threw a grenade inside the Knesset plenum while it was housed in Beit Frumin. From then until November 4, 1995, the unit developed in accordance with the need for personnel and the consolidation of the security concept based on the fact that in all those years it was not required to deal with a real threat to any of the security objects that were its responsibility, including the prime minister. As mentioned, the professional discourse presented me with an intellectual challenge in searching for the question of whether the reason or reasons for the failure to secure the Prime Minister originated in the years before the assassination:
About the unit before the assassination:
A close protection unit is an operational unit with over 30 years of routine operational experience consisting of a normative structure tree that includes a unit head, department managers, branch heads, commanders, and close protection specialists. There is a clear division between the unit’s headquarters and the employees in the field, with the layer of commanders functioning as a link between them. There is respect on the part of the close protection specialists towards the commanders and managers at the headquarters. Recruitment to the unit took place in accordance with a defined and orderly process where everyone who successfully completes it undergoes general and specialized professional training in the field of close protection. Anyone who successfully completes the training is accepted into the unit and undergoes a process of initiation and overlap by an older close protection specialist. A close protection specialist in the unit is sent on personal security missions where he is responsible for screening the crowd with the help of increasing female soldiers, performing an anti-sabotage scan, supervising, picking up the principal, and integrating into his actual security until departure. The operational work, with an emphasis on the work in the prime minister’s team, is carried out in a professional process that includes a preliminary briefing, command and control, and a summary for the purpose of learning lessons. All the close protection specialists perform the tasks very seriously and in accordance with what was learned in the professional training and defined in the concept of security and the various mission portfolios.
After about 37 years of operational work in which no real adversary appeared, it would be very logical to understand the sense of self-confidence that prevailed among the unit managers, commanders and close protection specialists. On the one hand, there is no doubt that it is important for a unit to conduct itself operationally with a sense of self-confidence that the actions carried out in the field are correct and respond to the relevant threats, and on the other hand, the feeling of self-confidence must not turn into arrogance and arrogance and even thinking that you are the best in the world.
I remember very well that among the close protection specialists there was professional self-confidence but neither bragging nor arrogance, therefore I am sure that the feeling of security is not the reason for the failure to prevent the assassination.
The central working assumption from the moment the unit was established until November 4, 1995, was that “an Israeli-born Jew will not harm a Jew”, will not harm a state personality, and certainly not the head of the government. A job assignment that made the management level truly believe that an Israeli-born Jew would not assassinate the Prime Minister and passed from them to the level of commanders and close protection specialists in the field. The strong belief was translated by the close protection specialists in the field into an almost immediate clearing of anyone who seemed to fit the job description. This does not mean that the close protection specialists do not look at all those who approach the Prime Minister, but it is possible that the work environment causes the look to be different and less operationally stressful.
Yigal Amir proved that the main work premise of the service and within it the close protection unit was fundamentally wrong and did not correspond to the fact that in the past Israeli-born Jews harmed other Israeli-born Jews and certainly does not correspond to everything that happened in Israel in the months before November 4, 1995.
There is no doubt that the mistaken assumption of work is one of the main reasons for the failure to prevent the assassination of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin mainly because it created a mistaken belief and influenced what was defined in the unit’s security concept.
The security concept:
The close protection unit worked on the basis of a professional and clear security concept that defined that as a general rule the prime minister would be secured by a commander and four close protection specialists, would travel in an unarmored vehicle, and would be able to meet almost any person on the street or at events without undergoing identification and a security check at such a level that it would be possible to know what his or her intentions are and whether he or she is carrying weapons. The security concept was based on the belief that every close protection specialist in the unit received all the professional knowledge and tools required in order to successfully overcome anyone who would act to harm the prime minister.
Here too, Yigal Amir proved that in general, the security concept of the close protection unit was fundamentally wrong, and in particular the thinking that the armed close protection specialist would always succeed in defeating the opponent.
I am sure that the mistaken perception of security was also a major reason for the failure to prevent the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Supervision and Control:
The Shamgar Committee found that the head of the service was not sufficiently involved in the activities of the close protection unit and, as part of this, did not supervise or visit the extent desired in order to know if there were professional gaps in its activity. The supervision and control within the unit over the work of the close protection specialists in the field was also not sufficiently defined, orderly and professional and it seems that in general the various close protection specialists were sent to carry out the security tasks with full faith that they would always perform it to the best of their ability and without gaps, a “fire and forget” style of operation.
Since the failure to supervise and control the action in the field prevents the detection of professional gaps and does not allow the layer of close protection specialists to be heard, it is clear that this has a part in the reason for the failure to prevent the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
The attacker’s viewpoint and detecting exceptions:
Seeing from the attacker’s viewpoint was a professional field that did not exist in the security concept of the close protection unit and therefore was not studied in the professional training. The implication of this was that the close protection specialist in the field did not know how to think from the point of view of the attacker and did not know how to professionally detect exceptions in the threat sector.
This professional gap was one of the main reasons why Yigal Amir stood for about 40 minutes near close protection specialists who actually saw him but did not define him as an anomaly in the section and thus allowed him to safely arrive at the point of time and the meeting with the Prime Minister that suited the execution of a precise and deadly shot.
The Shamgar Committee, which examined in depth the reasons for the failure to prevent the assassination of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, found that it did not occur because of the close protection specialists who carried out the task of securing the Prime Minister on November 4, 1995. The committee came to the clear conclusion that the close protection specialists worked and performed the security exactly as defined in the unit’s security concept and as they were taught in the professional training, therefore in its decision the committee reinforces the insights I presented in the professional discourse.