Peres with Nelson Mandela 1999 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israeli leaders mourned the loss of former South African president Nelson Mandela, who died on Thursday evening.
Mandela was "the father of his nation, a man of vision, a freedom fighter who opposed violence," Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu wrote on his Facebook page late Thursday night.
"He posed as a personal example to his people in the many years he spent in jail, and never became haughty," Netanyahu wrote. "He worked to heal the tears in South African society and succeeded with his personality to prevent outbreaks of racial hatred."
"He will be remembered as the father of the new South Africa and as a highly important moral leader," the prime minister concluded.
President Shimon Peres, who met the South African leader when he visited Israel in 1999, also eulogized Mandela.
"The world has lost a venerable leader who changed the path of history," Peres said.
"Nelson Mandela fought for human rights and left his mark on the war against discrimination and racism," the president added. "He was a strong proponent of democracy, a valued arbitrator, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and above everything he was a builder of bridges of peace and dialogue."
"Mandela's legacy to his people and to the world will remain etched in the pages of history and in the hearts of all of those whose lives he touched, and who will remember him forever," Peres concluded.