Iconic Israeli poet Natan Zach has died at the age of 89 in a central Israel hospital. The Israel Prize laureate had been suffering from Alzheimer's Disease in recent years.
A poet, writer, editor, translator and professor of literature was one of the most significant artists in Israeli history, who helped shape Hebrew culture after the establishment of the state.
Zach published more than two dozen books, including several that were translated into other languages, and won a number of international prizes.
Culture Minister Hili Tropper called him "one of Israel's greatest poets" and said his influence would be felt for "generations."
Zach sparked controversy in a 2010 television interview when he made derogatory remarks about Middle Eastern Jews and suggested their culture was inferior to Jews of European descent.
He also expressed support that year for an activist flotilla that sought to defy Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian enclave ruled by the Islamic terror group Hamas.
Born in Berlin in 1930, Zach emigrated to the Holy Land as a child. He taught at Tel Aviv University for several years before moving to Britain to complete a PhD at the University of Essex. When he returned, he taught at Haifa University.
"A poet, critic, editor and translator, Zach has exerted great influence on the development of modern Hebrew poetry," the Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature says in its online biography.
"He was the leader of a group of post-Independence poets who changed the face of Hebrew poetry in the 1950s and 1960s."