Knesset Member Gideon Ezra, a former minister who also served as deputy director of the Shin Bet internal security agency, died on Thursday after a years-long battle with lung cancer. He was 74.
Ezra was being laid to rest on Thursday in his hometown of Kochav Yair.
“Gideon served Israel throughout his whole life,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “His contribution to the State’s security was significant, and for the most part will remain a mystery due to its secretive nature.”
The former minister was renowned as a heavy smoker and recently blamed his cancer on the habit. After falling ill with the disease, Ezra became active in warning others of the dangers of smoking.
Born in Jerusalem, Ezra served for more than 30 years in the security establishment, rising to the position of deputy director of the Shin Bet.
Former Kadima head Tzipi Livni said Ezra was one of the best people Israeli politics has ever known.
“He was an upright character and spoke the truth,” Livni said. “He was bold in the field of security, and brave in his views in the public arena.”
Ezra became a Knesset member in 1996 as a member of the Likud party, and joined Kadima with the establishment of that party in 2005. During his political career he headed the Tourism, Environmental Protection and Internal Security ministries.