amir - Dror Artzi - December 27 2010
Yigal Amir Photo by Dror Artzi
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Hadar Cohen
Moti Naftali Photo by Hadar Cohen

The first officer to question Yigal Amir after he had murdered Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said the killer was elated over what he had done, asking the police for cookies to celebrate.

After Amir heard that Rabin had died from his wounds, Amir "jumped up from his seat and shouted 'What, he died? Wow, I did it! I can't believe it,'" said Commander (ret. ) Moti Naftali, who interviewed the assassin immediately after the murder and is speaking now for the first time.

"He kept talking about the need to do it to Rabin. He felt during those first hours that he had saved the people of Israel from catastrophe. He has the profile of a suicide bomber, who believes he's doing everything for his people and ideology," Naftali said.

Amir was arrested by Special Patrol Unit officers in Tel Aviv, after firing three bullets into Rabin's back. The officers put Amir in Naftali's car and they drove 12 nerve-wracking minutes from the square to the Yarkon Sub-District Police headquarters.

"Nobody spoke, neither the officers nor Yigal Amir," recalled Naftali. "We all looked at Amir, but couldn't make out if he was Jewish or Arab. Even when we arrived at the station I had no idea he was a Jew."

Naftali said he was taken aback when he realized the assassin was Jewish.

"I asked for his name and then I realized who was sitting in front of me. I called Gabi Last, then district commander, and said Gabi, he's a Jew, a Yemenite guy from Herzliya. We were in shock," he said.

The police had received an alert before the rally about a plan for a terror attack, following the assassination of a senior Hezbollah officer. The possibility of a Jewish attacker never came up, even in the brief before the rally.

"I realized I was conducting the biggest investigation that ever took place in Israel," Naftali said.

Amir did not try to conceal his joy on hearing Rabin had died. "During the night they brought me a cup of tea and I asked for one for Amir as well. When he received it he asked me for cookies. He was ecstatic and told me let's raise a toast, this is a big day," Naftali said.

Sixteen years after the murder, Naftali says he recognizes voices similar to Amir's.

"Today I hear the extremists speaking against public figures and the youngsters who carry out attacks against Palestinians and it takes me back to those days," he said. "These guys sound exactly like Amir sounded in the investigation, a fanatic ready to do anything."