Rabin was born in Jerusalem in British mandatory Palestine. He attended military schools and eventually, in 1962 rose to the post of Chief of Staff in the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). Following his retirement from the IDF, he became a diplomat, serving as ambassador to the United States beginning in 1968. In 1973, he was elected to the Knesset as a member of the Labor Party, and was appointed Minister of Labor. In 1974, he succeeded Golda Meir as Prime Minister of Israel. This term in office was most famous for Operation Entebbe, in which, on his orders, the IDF rescued passengers of a plane hijacked as it left Israel.
In 1993, as Prime Minister again, he played a leading role in the signing of the Oslo peace accords, which created the Palestinian Authority and granted it partial control over parts of the Gaza Strip and West Bank. During this term of office, Rabin also oversaw the signing of a peace accord with Jordan and the rapid expansion of settlements in the West Bank and Gaza.
For his role in the creation of the Oslo Accords, Rabin was awarded the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize, along with Yasser Arafat and Shimon Peres. The Accords made him both a hero and a villain to different parts of Israeli society. On November 4, 1995, Rabin was shot by the right-wing activist Yigal Amir after attending a peace rally in Tel Aviv's Kings Square. Mortally wounded, he died on the operating table at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv.