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At funeral, Israel’s leaders praise Shamir’s dedication and service

JTA

July 2, 2012 | 10:23 am

Members of the Knesset guard carry the flag draped coffin of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir as it is laid in state at the parliament in Jerusalem on July 2. Photo by REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Members of the Knesset guard carry the flag draped coffin of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir as it is laid in state at the parliament in Jerusalem on July 2. Photo by REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Israel’s leaders paid tribute to former Prime Minister Yitzchak Shamir at his funeral at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl cemetery.

An intimate but distinguished crowd sat opposite a military honor guard at the outdoor ceremony on Monday evening. Joining Shamir’s children and grandchildren in attendance were Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; President Shimon Peres; the head of the Israeli Defense Forces, Benny Gantz; the Sephardic chief rabbi, Shlomo Amar; and other political, religious and military leaders.

Shamir died Saturday at the age of 96. He served as Israel’s prime minister from 1983 to 1984, and from 1986 to 1992.

Peres, who was both Shamir’s coalition partner and main political opponent in the 1980s, praised Shamir’s strong beliefs and called him “a leader who followed his path until he departed this world” and “one of the best leaders of Israeli democracy.” Peres alluded to his and Shamir’s ideological differences several times throughout his eulogy, but emphasized that “we were sons of the same nation.”

In his eulogy, Netanyahu stressed Shamir’s lifetime of service to the state, noting that Shamir fought in an underground militia before Israel’s founding, and then as a secret Mossad agent afterwards, until he reached positions of leadership.

“He was a known man, but even then it seemed that in his heart and his actions he kept looking at himself as that anonymous soldier for his people and land,” Netanyahu said.

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