Leading Israeli Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, an Iraqi-born sage who changed the Israeli Sephardic Jews of Middle East – the Shas – into a powerful political force has died in Jerusalem after a battle with illness lasting several weeks. Critics dubbed him the “Israeli Ayatollah”.
He was very critical of Arabs and strongly supported the occupation of the lands allocated to the Arab population in the Palestian-Israeli region.
A funeral was held on the same day in Jerusalem with reports that more than 800,000 people turned up to pay their last respect to their spiritual leader. In a statement following his death Israeli Prime Minister said “The people of Israel lost one of the wisest of a generation, Rabbi (Yosef) was a giant in Torah and Jewish law and a mentor to tens of thousands.”