Uri Dan, a veteran Israeli journalist and close confidant of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, died Sunday after a long illness. He was 71.
Israeli media said he died of lung cancer.
During a career spanning more than three decades, Dan wrote for a number of Israeli publications, including the Maariv daily and the English-language Jerusalem Post. He also authored several books, and served as Israel correspondent for the New York Post.
The Jerusalem Post said Dan died after a battle with lung cancer, adding that he had continued working until last month. Dan died at a hospital in Kfar Sava, outside Tel Aviv, the paper said.
But Dan was best-known for his friendship with Sharon. The two became acquainted in the 1950s, and Dan documented Sharon’s crossing of the Suez Canal during the 1973 Mideast War against Egypt.
Dan also served as Sharon’s spokesman when he was defense minister during the Lebanon War in the early 1980s. At the time, Sharon was under fire for his actions in the war, and earlier had been passed as a candidate for army chief.
“Those who didn’t want to see him as army chief shall have him as defense minister, and those who didn’t want him as defense minister shall have him as prime minister,” Dan presciently said.
Despite Dan’s misgivings about Sharon’s pullout from the Gaza Strip last year, the two remained friends until Sharon’s debilitating stroke last January. Just two months ago, Dan published a biography called “Ariel Sharon: An Intimate Portrait.”
“He was an old-style journalist in that he never took on to Internet and wrote by hand, and he relied on his personal experience and reporting instincts even in his opinion pieces,” Jerusalem Post columnist and editorial page editor Saul Singer said.
A funeral was scheduled for Monday in Tel Aviv.