Knesset Member Gideon Ezra (Kadima) passed away early Thursday at the age of 74. He was diagnosed with lung cancer two years ago. He had served as a minister several times and was also deputy head of the Shin Bet.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said of Ezra: "Gideon served Israel throughout his whole life. His contribution to the State's security was significant, and for the most part will remain a mystery due to its secretive nature."
Born in Jerusalem, Ezra spent his military service at the Nahal Brigade and served in the Shin Bet between the years 1962-1995.
Ezra during a tour of Itamar after March 2011 massacre (Photo: Ben Kelmer)
He was first elected to the Knesset as a Likud member in 1996 and sat in various committees.
In 2003, he was appointed a minister without portfolio in Ariel Sharon's government. He was later given the role of tourism minister and in September 2004 was appointed internal security minister, replacing Tzachi Hanegbi.
Later he joined Sharon in his new party Kadima and in March 2006 was elected Knesset Member on behalf of Kadima. In May of that year he was appointed Environmental Protection Minister in Ehud Olmert's government.
A heavy smoker, Ezra dedicated the last year of life campaigning on the dangers of smoking. He will be laid to rest in Kochav Yair on Thursday at 4 pm.
A statement on behalf of Defense Minister Ehud Barak said, "Gideon Ezra spent decades working for Israel's security with courage and undying devotion. As a public figure, a Knesset member and minister he always conducted himself with decency, talent and responsibility."
Kadima Chairman Shaul Mofaz said that "Gideon always stood up for his principles and values. He arrived at the Knesset even when his health deteriorated and was involved in the work to his last day."
Former Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni said of Ezra, "Gideon was one of the best practitioners of Israeli politics, and a truthful and honest man. He was daring in the security arena and bold in the public arena and a model of public conduct until his very last days, which he spent fighting the dangers of smoking. The State of Israel has lost one of its best sons and he will be sorely missed."
Moran Azulay contributed to this report
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop