Knesset Prepares for 5th Anniversary of Ze´evi´s Murder

Respected Cabinet Minister and IDF General Rehavam Ze'evi was murdered five years ago in a Jerusalem hotel by three Palestinian terrorists - and the public is invited to take part in the memorial.

Hillel Fendel , | updated: 10:50

Ze'evi was shot to death close to 7 AM as he was going to his room to tape an interview with Arutz-7 on the morning of the 30th day of Tishrei, 5762. The date falls out this year on Oct. 22, this coming Sunday.

The Knesset website now features a wide-ranging tribute to Ze'evi, including his political, ideological and personal biography, an account of the murder, public ceremonies and Knesset sessions held in his honor, photos, and more. The public is also invited to add comments and tributes in the virtual guest book. One blessing comes from a couple that named its son, born four months after Ze'evi's death, Raz - the initials of Rehavam Ze'evi.

On Tuesday, Oct. 24, at 4 PM, the Knesset will hold a special session in memory of Minister Ze'evi.

Widely known as Gandi because of a costume he once wore, Ze'evi was born in Jerusalem in June 1926, studied in Givat HaShlosha (east of Petach Tikvah), and joined the Palmach - an elite unit of the Haganah forerunner of the Israel Defense Forces - in 1944. During the War of Independence he was an Intelligence Officer of the Yiftach Brigade, and later served as an Operations Officer in the northern front, as Intelligence Officer in the Southern Command, and as a Brigade Commander in Golani.

In 1964 he was promoted to the rank of Major-General, and in 1968 he was appointed Commander of Central Command. He retired from the IDF in 1973, a week before the unexpected outbreak of the Yom Kippur War. After the war he served for a short time as Commander of the Operations Branch of the IDF.

In 1974, Ze'evi was appointed by Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin as advisor on matters of terror, and in the years 1975-77 served as advisor to the Prime Minister on intelligence affairs. In 1981, in expression of his well-known love for the Land of Israel, he became the director of the Land of Israel Museum in Tel Aviv, serving in this position for ten years.

In 1985 he began speaking publicly in favor of a voluntary transfer of the Arabs of Judea, Samaria and Gaza as the only viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He thus became famous - notorious. according to some - for his "transfer" views. Though he developed many political enemies, all praised him for his integrity and love for Israel.

Before the elections to the 12th Knesset in 1988, Ze'evi founded the Moledet (Homeland) party, which won two Knesset seats, three in 1992, and two again in 1996. In the elections to the 15th Knesset in 1999, Moledet ran together with the National Union, which received four seats. Ze'evi served in the Knesset for 13 years, until his death.

Ze'evi joined the government of Prime Minister Yitzchak Shamir in 1991, despite the opposition of several Likud members who opposed his "transfer" views, and was appointed Minister without Portfolio and a member of the Security Cabinet. He resigned from the government nearly a year later, in protest of Shamir's agreement to take part in the Madrid Conference - the first time Israeli leaders sat officially with PLO terrorist representatives.

In the course of the 13th Knesset ('92-'96), Ze'evi was one of the most bitter opponents of the Oslo Accords. When Binyamin Netanyahu was elected Prime Minister in 1996, Ze'evi did not join the government, though he supported it from without - except for the decision to withdraw from most of Hevron.

Ze'evi joined the first Ariel Sharon government in March 2001 as Minister of Tourism, but a day and a half before his assassination, he tendered his resignation from the government because of the Prime Minister's decision to withdraw IDF forces from positions it had re-occupied in Hevron following increasing murderous terrorist attacks. The resignation had not yet gone into effect when he was murdered.

Family and Ideology
Rehavam Amikam Ze'evi was a sixth-generation Jerusalemite on his mother's side. He and his wife Yael, of Kibbutz Deganiah Bet, had five children, 19 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild at the time of his death. His children all had names with modern Jewish-historic significance: Yiftach Palmach, Sayar Binyamin (who later became a Breslover Hassid and wished to be known only as Benny), Massada, Tse'elah, and Aravah.

Ze'evi was known to always wear a dog tag with the names of the missing Israeli soldiers. He put on tefillin every day, saying that this connected him to Jewish tradition. He signed off on his weekly broadcast on Arutz-7 with the verse, "May G-d give strength to His nation, May G-d bless His nation with peace."