March 13th 2013
Rabin Square was originally named Kikar Malchei Yisrael (Kings of Israel Square) and was home to many political demonstrations, rallies and parades. In 1995, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in the square at the end of a peace rally. The assassination of a prime minister of Israel – for ideological reasons, no less – was a great shock to the Israeli public. The masses took to the streets for rallies and memorial ceremonies at the site where Rabin was shot, lighting memorial candles all along the nearby wall. Graffiti messages of sorrow and tribute were written on the wall as well.
The graffiti on the wall has been maintained and can still be viewed today in the square, which has since been renamed Rabin Square. A memorial to the fallen Prime Minister has been erected on the site. The memorial was designed by sculptress Yael Ben-Artzi and is made from 16 basalt rocks from the Galilee, which are sunk into the ground.
These rocks symbolize Rabin’s roots and connection with the Land of Israel. The stones were placed at different heights to signify the political and social earthquake Israel went through after the assassination. At the top of the stairs leading to the square, the words of Rabin’s speech that night are engraved in Hebrew, English and Arabic.
Rabin Square is located in the center of Tel Aviv, surrounded by the city’s busiest commercial and residential streets. Bustling streets filled with cafes, pubs and boutique shops border tree-lined boulevards with classic Tel Aviv architecture. The square is also adjacent to Tel Aviv’s City Hall and the Gan Hair shopping mall. The square is also home to a Holocaust memorial, sculpted in 1975 by Yigal Tumarkin.
Numerous attempts have been made to renovate and modernize the square, but the argument that it should be preserved as part of Tel Aviv’s history has so far prevailed. Instead, the square has been spruced up, but no major changes have been made.