Roni Daniel, one of Israel’s most prominent journalists, dies at 73

Veteran military correspondent for country’s most popular news network dies after cardiac arrest; PM: ‘He combined journalism with patriotism and Zionism’

Journalist Roni Daniel on March 1, 2016. (Arielinson/Wikipedia CC-BY-SA-4.0)
Journalist Roni Daniel on March 1, 2016. (Arielinson/Wikipedia CC-BY-SA-4.0)

Roni Daniel, one of Israel’s most prominent journalists who was an army correspondent and commentator for the country’s most popular TV news network for 28 years, died Monday at the age of 73.

Hebrew media said the cause of the surprise death was cardiac arrest.

Daniel was featured on the screen almost every evening since the formation of Channel 2 in 1993, continuing as the news network underwent major changes and became Channel 12 in recent years.

Before that, he worked for Kol Yisrael, Army Radio and Channel 1.

Daniel’s death drew reactions from a range of public figures.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said he “combined journalism with patriotism and Zionism.”

“Roni wasn’t just an army commentator,” Bennett said in a statement. “He was the voice of a long era, of the good land of Israel, of love of the country and safeguarding its security, of the kibbutz and the city together. He was critical when necessary and gave a good word at the right time. He will be missed by all of us, on the screen and in our hearts. My condolences and a big embrace to the family.”

Veteran military correspondent Roni Daniel responds to the furor over his recent comments that he is not sure he wants his children to remain in Israel, during a panel discussion on Channel 2’s Friday night news program, on May 27, 2016 (screen capture: Channel 2)

President Isaac Herzog tweeted: “We have lost the unique, honest and trusting soundtrack of a human-loving journalist who loved the state and the nation.”

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said he had met Daniel two weeks ago. “He told me in sadness that he was worried for the country. Roni built his status over many years on the basis of honesty, humanity and professionalism. I will miss you Roni, the patriotism, the love for the country and our friendship,” Gantz wrote.

Born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1947, Daniel lost his father when he was two. His mother moved to Israel a year later with him. He served in the Israel Defense Forces’ Nahal Brigade and fought in the Six Day War in 1967 — where he was injured on the Egyptian front — and in the War of Attrition in 1967-1970.

He became a commander and reached the rank of lieutenant colonel before beginning his journalistic career in the 1970s.

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