Prominent Israeli author Amos Oz passes away at 79

Israeli writer Amos Oz shown here in 2015 died Friday at age 79

Israeli writer Amos Oz shown here in 2015 died Friday at age 79

Oz served as an army reservist in a tank unit in the Six-Day War of 1967 and the Yom Kippur War of 1973.

In recent years, Oz spoke out against the policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, shunning official Israeli functions overseas in protest at what he called the "growing extremism" of his country's government.

His writing - witty, scholarly, and often moody and erotic - won worldwide plaudits, and he was a frequent bookies' favourite for the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Netanyahu on Friday celebrated Oz as "among the greatest writers from the state of Israel".

But while he was a consistent advocate of the creation of a Palestinian state, Oz also took a hard line against those sworn to Israel's destruction and condemned every variety of religious fanaticism.

His most acclaimed works included the best-selling 2002 autobiographical novel A Tale of Love and Darkness. "We have to divide the house into two smaller next-door apartments", he told Deutsche Welle in an interview marking Israel's 70th anniversary this year.

"I don't know what the future holds for Jerusalem but I know what should happen".

He was among the founders of Peace Now, a leftist organization that opposes Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and was a leading voice in the 2003 "Geneva Initiative", an unofficial peace plan reached by leading Israeli and Palestinians. The Israeli author and literary figure was 79 years old.

Author and journalist Jonathan Freedland added that Oz was "a guiding light to all those who longed for a just Israel, living in peace with its neighbours".

"He greatly contributed to the renewal of Hebrew literature, with which he deftly and emotionally expressed important aspects of the Israeli experience", he said.

Israel's renowned novelist Amos Oz died on Friday afternoon at the age of 79 after struggling with cancer, his family said.

Oz was known world-wide for a collection of novels, essays, and a well-received memoir.

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon called Oz's death "a loss for us all and for the world". "Even though we had differences of opinion in many fields, I greatly appreciate his contributions to the Hebrew language and the renewal of Hebrew literature". "May his memory be a blessing". Oz won numerous prizes, including the Israel Prize and Germany's Goethe Award, and was a perennial contender for the Nobel Prize in literature.

The cause was cancer, the Israeli media reported.

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