(photo credit: Courtesy)
Family members of slain prime minister Yitzhak Rabin z"l and dignitaries made their way to Jerusalem's Mt. Herzl Wednesday afternoon to mark 12 years since Rabin was murdered in Tel Aviv by Yigal Amir.
Attendees at the national memorial service included Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Knesset Chairman Dalia Itzik, High Court of Justice President Dorit Beinisch, government ministers, Knesset members and public officials.
President Shimon Peres was the first to speak in Rabin's memory.
"Twelve years have passed by in a blink since Yitzhak was slain by the 'lowest' of murderers, who valued human life cheaply," Peres said.
The three bullets that struck Rabin's exposed back, Peres said, could not turn Israel away from its democratic principles.
"We are a strong people, and we will stay strong," Peres said.
Amir, Peres said, had violated the commandment "Thou shalt not kill," and thus deprived Israel of a "brave and admired leader."
But Amir failed in his goal to derail the peace process, Peres continued, saying that the process that appeared to have been cut off 12 years ago was being renewed. Peres expressed his belief that the great majority of Israelis believed in Rabin's approach and would stick to his path.
Peres expressed his conviction that escaping the "moral burden of ruling another people" would lead to peace.
The president also praised Rabin's lifelong dedication to the service of the nation and to the education of its youth.
Olmert spoke after Peres and mentioned the incitement to violence which led to Rabin's murder. "Such incitement should not be allowed even in a democratic country."
"Israel's aspiration for peace will not be stopped by the bullets of a vile assassin," the prime minister declared.
During the ceremony, Rabin's grandson Michael spoke on behalf of the family. "In the 12 years that have passed since Rabin's assassination, hope has been replaced by a combination of indifference and despair," he said.
"Your dream of peace has been shattered. The people of my generation are avoiding taking action. They are once again waiting for a responsible adult to bear the burden in Rabin's stead and lead them, cursed and scorned, on that unpopular and unrewarded roadâ€¦for 12 years you have been silent, and for 12 years I have been silent with you. Today I break my silence," he added.