Ilan Gilon
Ilan Gilon Hadas Parush/FLASH90

Former Meretz MK Ilan Gilon passed away Sunday morning at the age of 65, his family announced.

The family said that Gilon was "the man with the biggest red heart there is. A labor leader who advocated peace, social justice, and great Zionism. We are very sorry as a family and as Israelis."

Gilon was born in 1956 in Romania and suffered a leg disability after contracting polio. In 1999, Gilon was elected to the Knesset on the eighth place on the Meretz list for the 15th Knesset, where he devoted most of his work to social affairs, and was a member of the Economic, Home and Environment, Child Rights, Labor, Welfare and Health Committees and the Special Committee on Foreign Workers.

Gilon served in the Knesset for 15 years, during which he passed, among other things, an amendment to the National Insurance Law that improves the rights of the disabled and a law that requires the minimum wage to be paid to waiters, regardless of the tip left by the diners. He also extended the Disability Equality Act.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid paid tribute to him: "a tear for Ilan Gilon. One of the best among us, a public figure, an ideologue, honest as a ruler and smart and also funny. They don't make them like him anymore. May his memory be blessed."

Religious Zionism part chairman MK Bezalel Smotrich also paid tribute to Gilon: "Blessed be the true judge. Ilan was a man of truth. Ilan Gilon was my opponent on pretty much every subject, and at the same time one of the most worthy and beloved people in Israeli politics. He was a man of principles, above all a good and worthy man. Ilan will be sorely missed. May his memory be blessed."