Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, who clung throughout his life to the belief that Israel should hang on to territory and never trust an Arab regime, passed away at the age of 96 at a nursing home in Herzliya, Israeli officials said Saturday.
Yitzhak Shamir has left us, current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said in a statement, adding that Shamir led Israel with a deep loyalty to the nation, to the land and to the eternal values of the Jewish people.
Yitzhak Shamir was a brave warrior for Israel, before and after its inception. He was a great patriot and his enormous contribution will be forever etched in our chronicles, President Shimon Peres said in a statement. He was loyal to his beliefs and he served his country with the upmost dedication for decades. May he rest in peace.
Shamir was born in 1915 in Ruzhany, Russia, in 1915. He studied at the law faculty of Warsaw University, but cut his studies short to immigrate to what was then the British Mandate of Palestine in 1935.
As head of the right-wing Likud bloc, which Netanyahu now leads, Shamir served as prime minister for seven years, from 1983 to 1984 and again from 1986 to 1992. His term as prime minister was marked by the first Palestinian uprising and the 1991 Gulf war, when Iraq fired 39 Scud missiles at Israel.
The citizens of Israel will always remember the wisdom he demonstrated during the First Gulf War. He showed restraint and saved Israel from undue entanglement in the Iraq War. This decision proved to be a brave and wise act of leadership, said Opposition Leader Shelly Yachimovich, according to Ynetnews.com.
Shamir had withdrawn from public life over the past decade due to Alzheimer's disease. For the last several years, Shamir has been living in a full-care retirement home. He leaves behind two children and five grandchildren. Shamir lost his wife Shlomit last year at the age of 88.
Gilada Diamant, Yitzhak Shamir's daughter, said that her father was an amazing man, a family man in the fullest sense of the word, a man who dedicated himself to the State of Israel but never forgot his family, not even for a moment. He was a special man.
Shamir will receive a State funeral, which has been set for Monday, according to Ynetnews.com. He will be buried on Mount Herzl.