An official state ceremony was held Thursday at the Har Herzl Cemetery in memory of former minister and major-general Rechavam Ze'evi z”l, on the 12th anniversary of his assassination.

Ze'evi was Tourism Minister when he was gunned down by three Arab assailants from the PFLP terror organiation, on October 17, 2001 (Tishrei 30, 5762), at the Jerusalem Hyatt Hotel. His assassination was one of the events that marked the peak of the prolonged terror war often referred to as “the Second Intifada,” in which 1,178 Israelis, 70% of them civilians, were murdered between 2000 and 2009.

Rechav'am Ze'evi
Rechav'am Ze'eviFlash 90

Among the participants at the ceremony were President Shimon Peres, as well as Likud-Beyteinu Minister Yuval Steinitz, MKs Avigdor Lieberman, Moshe Feiglin, Reuven Rivlin and Gila Gamliel, MK Zevulun Kalfa of Bayit Yehudi, and Supreme Court Judge Tzvi Halbertal.

Referring to Ze'evi by his nickname from youth, "Gandhi," President Peres said that “The bullets that struck Gandhi were not just a heinous act of murder but also a political mistake, because Gandhi did not hate Arabs, but sought a way to end the enmity between us.”

"Even after 12 years, we mourn for, give respect to, and feel the loss of Gandhi, and his uniqueness – Gandhi the commander, Gandhi the responsible one, Gandhi the minister.”

Photo: Mark Nyman / GPO

Ze'evi's son, Palmach, said that his father “stood alone and left the consensus.” He said that when traveling with him in Israel, his father used to show him Jordanian documents that proved the presence of Jewish communities on the land in the 19th century. “The Arab settlement in the Land is only from the last hundred years,” he explained, “when Jews began employing them and paying handsomely.”

"We are not immigrants and the Arabs are not natives,” Ze'evi said. “The twisted picture, as if the Jews robbed the Arabs of the Land, must be rejected.”

Ze'evi noted that his father warned former prime minister Yitzchak Rabin that the guns he gave to the Arabs in the Oslo accords would be turned against Jews.

Ze'evi was a platoon commander in 1948 and went on to become a major general until his retirement from active service in 1974. In 1988, Ze'evi established the Moledet (Homeland) party that advocated the “voluntary” population transfer of Arabs from Judea, Samaria and Gaza to neighboring Arab countries.