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Sammy Ofer Laid to Rest

Dozens participate in funeral of rich Israeli businessman Sammy Ofer, who died Friday at the age of 89. "You were a great man," said his son.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 6/6/2011, 1:24 AM / Last Update: 6/6/2011, 1:13 AM

Israel News photo: Flash 90

Dozens of senior business executives, public figures and other Israeli citizens participated on Sunday in the funeral of business tycoon Sammy Ofer, who died on Friday at his home in Tel Aviv at the age of 89.

Among those who participated in the funeral were former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav, MK Meir Shitrit, Israeli supermarket magnate Rami Levy, former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s top aide Dov Weisglass, public relations man Rani Rahav, businessman Alfred Akirov, MK Silvan Shalom and his wife Judy, Yitzhak Tshuva of the Delek energy company, and many others.

Eyal Ofer, Sammy Ofer’s son, eulogized his father, saying, “Sammy could speak several languages and had knew how to address any person at his language and level. He was a modest and reserved man. He loved people and loved the Navy.”

Idan Ofer also eulogized his father, saying, “It is difficult and impossible to separate from you. It is impossible to describe nine decades of constant activity. You were a great man and a great businessman. To describe you is a task that is unachievable.

“You had a personality which was unique and full of contrasts,” he continued. “A charismatic leader, endowed with a sense of humor and groundbreaking vision. As a child you would take me to the office every week, and that was where I felt at home the most.”

Sammy Ofer, who had been suffering a serious illness, died shortly after the start of a political and media storm involving his shipping company, Tanker Pacific. In the past week, accusations were made that ships owned by Tanker Pacific had docked in Iran.

The United States slapped sanctions on the Ofer Brothers Group over suspicions that it had violated sanctions against trade with Iran. Allegations also surfaced according to which ships belonging to the Zodiak shipping company, also belonging to the Ofer family, had docked in Iran as well.

The Knesset’s Finance Committee held a session to discuss the affair last Tuesday, but the meeting was suddenly stopped by chairman MK Carmel Shama after he received a note, the contents of which he refused to divulge.

Meanwhile, it was reported on Sunday in The London Times that the Ofer Brothers ships that reportedly docked in Iran were actually carrying IDF choppers for secret missions that may have included surveillance on Iran’s nuclear sites.

Sammy Ofer was born in 1922 in Romania. In 1924 the family immigrated to then-Mandate Palestine and lived in Haifa. After Ofer finished elementary school, he started working as delivery boy for a shipping company.

With the start of the World War II, Ofer enlisted in the Royal Navy and was later a member of the Haganah pre-state defense group. He served in the Israeli Sea Corps during the 1948 War of Independence.

The Ofer group also owns the Tzim shipping company, the Mizrachi Tefachot bank, and various chemical plants.