MK Gideon Ezra, Former Government Minister, Dies at 75

Ezra served in various cabinet positions, following a long career in the Shin Bet.

MK Gideon Ezra passed away overnight Wednesday, at age 75, following a prolonged battle with lung cancer.

Throughout his career, Ezra served in various positions in the Shin Bet, reaching the position of vice-director of the agency.

Ezra served in various ministerial positions in the government as well. At first as a member of the Likud Party, and then as a Kadima member, Ezra served as Tourism Minister. Ezra also held the positions of Public Security Minister and Environmental Protection Minister.

Ezra was known as a heavy smoker, and was for fifty years, before being diagnosed with lung cancer nearly two years ago. While undergoing medical treatment, Ezra began to lead an anti-smoking campaign in schools, in which he spoke to students about the dangers and damages of smoking.

Ezra was born in 1937 and grew up in Jerusalem, until he was drafted into the paratroop unit of the Nachal brigade in 1955.

In 1962, Ezra enlisted in the Shin Bet, learned Arabic, and served as a unit sub-director in Ramallah. In 1974, Ezra was sent to Europe for two years by the Mossad.

Upon returning to Israel and the Shin Bet, Ezra was appointed director of the northern division, before serving for years as director of the Gaza and Sinai sector. Ezra was appointed director of the Shin Bet’s Lebanon sector as well.

During the first Intifada, Ezra served as the head of the Shin Bet’s Jerusalem and West Bank sector. In 1991, Ezra was appointed vice-director of the agency, and remained in that position until retiring in 1995.

Upon retiring from the Shin Bet, Ezra joined the Likud Party and was elected to the 14th Knesset. In 2003, Ezra was appointed a minister in the Prime Minister’s office, before serving as Tourism Minister, and eventually replacing Tzachi Hanegbi as Public Safety Minister. When the Likud Party split, Ezra joined Kadima, and was appointed Environmental Protection Minister in 2006.

Read this article in Hebrew.

Tomer Appelbaum.