Israeli singer Yafa Yarkoni
Israeli singer Yafa Yarkoni. Photo by Moti Kimche
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Venerated Israeli singer Yafa Yarkoni died at the age of 86 at Reut Medical Center in Tel Aviv on Sunday, after years of suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

Yarkoni, who was known as the singer of Israel’s wars, entertained Israeli troops beginning in 1948 and was one of Israel’s most acclaimed artists. In 1998, Yarkoni received the Israel Prize for Hebrew song.

Yarkoni leaves behind three daughters, eight grandchildren, and give great-grandchildren. Her funeral date has yet to be decided, but she will be buried beside her late husband, Shaike Yarkoni in Kiryat Shaul cemetery in central Israel.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak issued a statement on Sunday, mourning Yarkoni.

“Yafa Yarkoni has escorted Israel, since its establishment, with her songs and was a symbol of the beautiful, Zionist, and moral Israel,” he said in a statement. “Her songs will accompany the country for many more years to come.”

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni also eulogized Yarkoni, saying that she was one of Israel’s greatest singers of Hebrew song. “She was a synonym to Israeliness, her face and her voice crossed generations of Israelis who were raised on her songs. Yafa Yarkoni was one of the strongest symbols of Zionism – along with other singers of her time she helped shape the soundtrack of the country. Her death is a great loss to Israeli culture. May her memory be blessed.”