Former Shin Bet deputy director Yitzhak Ilan died from COVID-19 at 64

He was considered to be the living Israeli who has investigated and interrogated the largest number of terrorists.

Former Shin Bet deputy-director Yitzhak Ilan (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Former Shin Bet deputy-director Yitzhak Ilan
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Former Shin Bet deputy director Yitzhak Ilan passed away at the age of 64 on Friday after contracting coronavirus a month ago and being hospitalized in a critical condition. 
Born in Surami, Georgia as Yitzhak Debrashvili, Ilan became known in Israel's security services as "the Georgian." He is considered to be the living Israeli who has investigated and interrogated the largest number of terrorists.
Ilan served as an officer in the IDF Air Defense Force and was a Shin Bet detective in Ramallah during the First Intifada, the head of Shin Bet's Samaria division in the Second Intifada, the head of the counterterrorism unit in Gaza and the head of the Investigations Department.
At the beginning of 2010, he was appointed Shin Bet deputy director, and served in this position for nearly two years. 
Ilan was supposed to be appointed as the Israeli Security Agency's new director after Yuval Diskin, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to give the position to Nadav Argaman in 2016 led to him retiring.
"The late Yitzhak Ilan was one of the pillars of the service. Outstanding researcher and first-rate intelligence man. Over the years, Yitzhak has conducted many hundreds of intelligence, investigation and counterterrorism operations, which have saved many lives - many Israelis owe their lives to him without knowing it," ISA director Nadav Argaman declared.
"Yitzhak was an Israeli patriot who loved the country with all his heart and did everything in his power to protect it and fortify its security. Even in his last days, he dealt with the heroism and determination that so characterized him, with his illness to the point of exhausting his strength."
"We mourn his untimely passing, share in the grief of the family and promise to commemorate his memory in the annals of the ISA."
He tried to run for Blue and White in the Knesset, but retired after being placed in 45th place on their list.
Ilan left behind a wife and three children. 
Israeli officials payed tribute to Ilan on Twitter. 
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent his "condolences to the family of the late Yitzhak Ilan, the former deputy director of the ISA, who died last night from coronavirus," through the social media. 
"The late Ilan served 31 years in the Shin Bet and dedicated his life to strengthening the security of the State of Israel. Many Israeli citizens owe him appreciation for his work for Israel's security."
"May his memory be blessed."
Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz expressed that Ilan "was one of the best people [he] knew. A shadow man who brought a lot of light and saved many lives," adding that he "met him when he was serving as head of the Samaria region with the outbreak of the second intifada, in which he led the campaign to thwart the terrorist attacks in the sector."
Gantz continued: "When I got into politics, we crossed paths again, when I put him on a blue and white list. Before the third election I made a decision to change his position on the list. Isaac was deeply offended and I apologized to him for the way I made the decision in the meeting between us."
"Isaac was one of the toughest people I knew, but at the same time a man of truth, a lover of Israel, and a man of research, computer and action, one of the best the State of Israel has ever had. One of the best interrogators we had, who no wanted wanted to meet in the interrogation room and an exemplary family man," he concluded. 
Former Shin Bet chief MK Avi Dichter wrote on Twitter that "It is doubtful that many know how great Ilan's contribution to Israel's security was," adding that "some of the people get up in the morning for work, and live thanks to Yitzhak's prevention of terrorist attacks. Several people were prevented from being injured, thanks to Yitzhak's wisdom in fighting terrorism. It is a sad day for the people of Israel and for the defense institutions."
Former Israeli Defence Minister Moshe "Bogie" Yaalon declared on Twitter that "Yitzhak, was an excellent intelligence and operations man, a smart, brave and active fighter, whose enormous contribution to Israel's Security Agency saved many lives, Yitzhak was a partner in the path of loving the people and the country."
Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz also reacted to Ilan's death by expressing his "shocked by his premature death."
"I was exposed to the wonderful and sophisticated investigations of Yitzhak Ilan when I served as chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, and was sometimes left with an open mouth and a slanted jaw in the face of his unique methods and incredible successes."
Opposition leader Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) wrote that "he is saddened by the passing of former ISA deputy director Yitzhak Ilan and [that he] shares the family's grief."
His funeral will take place today in the Ashdod cemetery. Due to the coronavirus regulations, the family asks not to attend the funeral.
Yitzhak Ilan obituary (Credit: Screenshot)Yitzhak Ilan obituary (Credit: Screenshot)