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Gideon Ezra

(1937 - 2012)

Gideon Ezra was an Israeli politician who served for sixteen years as a member of the Likud and Kadima parties in the Knesset, Israeli's parliament.

Ezra (born June 30, 1937; died May 17, 2012) was born in Jerusalem and was drafted into the Nahal Infantry Brigade of the Israel Defense Forces when he turned 18 in 1955. Following his service, he enrolled in the University of Haifa where he studied geography and political science.

Between 1962 and 1995, Ezra served in various positions within the general security services of Israel. He originally enlisted into the Shin Bet (Israel's FBI) in 1962, where he learned Arabic and served as a unit sub-director in Ramallah. In 1974, Ezra was sent to Europe for two years by the Mossad (Israel's CIA). Upon returning to Israel and the Shin Bet, Ezra was appointed director of the northern division, before serving as director of the Gaza, Sinai, and Lebanon sectors for many years.

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 when he was appointed as Advisor to the Minister of Public Security.

Upon retiring from the Shin Bet, Ezra joined the Likud Party and was elected on the party to the 14th Knesset in 1996. In March 2001, Ezra was appointed Deputy Minister of Public Security and in 2003 he was placed as a minister in the Prime Minister’s office, responsible for coordination between the government and the Knesset, before serving as Acting Tourism Minister in summer 2004, and eventually replacing Tzachi Hanegbi as Public Safety Minister.

In 2006, when the Likud Party split, Ezra joined the offshoot Kadima Party with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and he was appointed Environmental Protection Minister. In May 2006 he was reappointed Minister of the Environment.

On May 17, 2012, Ezra passed away following a prolonged battle with lung cancer. He was 75. Ezra is survived by his wife and three children.

Sources: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Haaretz; Ynet; Wikipedia