Last updated: 1 January, 2012

Israel forces sweetheart Yaffa Yarkoni dead at 86

Israeli diva Yaffa Yarkoni, forces sweetheart during the 1948 war that led to the Jewish state’s creation, died in a Tel Aviv nursing home on Sunday aged 86, local media reported.

She had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, the reports said.

Born in British-ruled Palestine in 1925, Yarkoni served in the fledgling Israeli army in the 1948 war during which she frequently performed for frontline troops.

One of her best loved hits, “Bab el Wad” was about Israeli soldiers who gave their lives on the road to Jerusalem during the war.

Winner in 1998 of the prestigious Israel Prize, Yarkoni gave performances around the world, appearing at Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Centre in New York, the London Palladium and the Olympia in Paris, among other venues.

Widowed twice, she is survived by three daughters, eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.