One of Israel’s most controversial spiritual figures, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, has died at the age of 93.
The rabbi’s death came just two weeks after he underwent a heart surgery in al-Quds (Jerusalem).
Yosef, who served as the spiritual leader of the Shas political party in the Israeli parliament, was known for his harsh and extremist remarks against Palestinians and other Arabs, calling them “snakes” and “vipers” who were “swarming like ants”.
In 2001, the spiritual leader of the ultra-Orthodox faction gave a speech in which he also called for Arabs’ annihilation.
“It is forbidden to be merciful to them,” he was quoted as saying. “You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable.”
He was known to be an example of Israeli fascism among many Arab critics.
In 2010 he called for Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to “vanish from our world”.
The Baghdad-born leader went on to say, “May God strike them down with the plague along with all the nasty Palestinians who persecute Israel.”
He also called on God to strike down then Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon over Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza after killing many Palestinians, and during Israel’s 2006 aggression on Lebanon.
He also implied that Israeli soldiers killed in battles died because they didn’t follow Jewish commandments.