Yitzhak Rabin Memorial Rally Draws 30,000 People

Memorial event marks 18 years since former prime minister's assassination.

Thirty thousand people gathered Saturday night for a rally marking 18 years since the assassination of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, police have estimated.

The rally, which was scheduled to commence at 8 P.M., took place at Tel Aviv's Rabin Square, where the prime minister was assassinated on November 4, 1995 by right-wing extremist Yigal Amir. The site, formerly known as Malchei Yisrael Square, was renamed in memory of the late prime minister following his death.

Saturday's rally was organized by a coalition of youth groups and social movements under the title "Remembering the murder, fighting for democracy." The coalition was established ahead of last year's rally to take on the organization of the yearly event.

The vast majority of attendees at this year's rally were members of youth movements who were not born when Rabin was assassinated.

Various speakers were scheduled to speak at Saturday night's gathering, but none were active politicians. Yonatan Ben Artzi, Rabin's grandson, was among the speakers, as were Yair Tzaban, who served as Minister of Immigrant Absorption during Rabin's premiership, and Rabbi Ze'ev Karov, head of the yeshiva at Karnei Shomron. Various musicians were also scheduled to perform.

In his speech, Ben Artzi called upon Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take advantage of the historic opportunity he is currently facing to achieve peace with the Palestinians. "My grandfather was murdered over peace and you owe this peace to us, to all of us," he said, adding that Netanyahu has the opportunity to simultaneously find a solution to the Iranian threat and Palestinian conflict with the backing of "the entire world."

Hadassah Froman, the wife of the late Rabbi Menachem Froman, said at the rally that, "striving for peace is the lifeblood of this country and will [Israel] will continue [to seek peace] despite those killing and conspiring against it." This land, she added, does not absolve "those who shed the blood of the innocent."

Rabbi Menachem Froman, who served as the rabbi of the West Bank settlement of Tekoa, died earlier this year. He was unique among settler rabbis in that he was a leading proponent of dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians.

Various streets in Tel Aviv were closed to traffic for the event, including Ibn Gabirol, between Pinkas and Shlomo Hamelekh streets, Arlozerov, between Weizman and Ibn Gabirol streets, and all side streets surrounding Rabin Square.

Last year, the annual memorial rally attracted some 20,000 people.