(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi expressed distress and disbelief on Monday over surveys that showed that many Israelis want prime minister Yitzhak Rabin's killer, Yigal Amir, to be freed.
"Like many of Israel's citizens and its soldiers, I am shocked by the surveys that indicate that large parts - too large - of Israeli society, believe that Yitzhak Rabin's killer should be pardoned," he said at a special session of the General Staff in memory of Rabin at the Rabin Center in Tel Aviv.
"Did we not swear to remember and not to forget, did we not swear that this [the murder of Rabin] would never become a forgotten issue? My obligation as chief of staff and yours as officers is to do all in our power with everything at our disposal, chiefly through the Education Corps and through discussions with our soldiers, to ensure that nothing like that ever happens again," he declared during the opening ceremony, held in the presence of Rabin's daughter Dalia Rabin.
"The thought that three bullets changed the reality for all of Israeli society and across the entire region, the fact that the murderer was an IDF soldier and a law student at a university, troubles me greatly.
"Not infrequently, the IDF is the last opportunity to educate, to influence and to shape worldviews. We must study the murder of the prime minister and do everything to ensure it does not get old. That is our responsibility as a society and our obligation as the Israel Defense Force which is the people's army," he concluded.
Meanwhile, the Prisons Service rejected a request by Amir on Monday to attend the brit of his son. His wife, Larissa Trimbobler, is due in about a week.
The Prisons Service also rejected his request to hold the brit in the prison. The Prisons Service cited concerns that Amir might contact far-right activists or that someone might try to kill him as the reasons for rejecting the request.
After the ceremony in memory of Rabin, the General Staff had a closed-door discussion about the issue of draft dodging. Former Supreme Court president Meir Shamgar and professors Uzi Arad and Eitan Haber were to take part in the discussion.
This is the third year in a row that the Rabin Center has hosted a special session of the general staff in memory of Rabin.