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Yaffa Yarkoni, Singer for Israeli Army, Dies at 86

Veteran Israeli singer Yaffa Yarkoni, who entertained Israeli troops for decades beginning in 1948, has died.

Yarkoni, who late in life criticized the Israeli Defense Forces for its treatment of the Palestinians, died Sunday at the age of 86. She reportedly had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for many years.

Yarkoni was called Israel’s “War Singer” for her performances for the troops, beginning with Israel’s War for Independence, when she was drafted into the army and joined a military band.

She recorded hundreds of songs during her long career. She was awarded the Israel Prize for her contributions to Hebrew music.

Her criticism of the Israeli military in 2002 led to the cancellation of a tribute event to her career.

In a letter of condolence to the singer’s family, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Yaffa Yarkoni’s songs were the soundtrack of Israel from its pre-state days, through the establishment of the state until our time. We will all miss her special voice and today, in keeping with her song, ‘Don’t say good-bye to me,’ we take our leave from her but not from the musical and cultural heritage that she has left behind.”

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