Billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a staunch supporter of US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was buried in Jerusalem Friday, an AFP photographer at the cemetery said.
Adelson died of cancer in the United States on Tuesday and his body arrived in Israel late Thursday, according to the Israel Hayom newspaper, founded by the Adelson family.
Netanyahu met the coffin and Adelson’s wife Miriam at the airport, Israel Hayom reported.
Miriam Adelson, born in British mandate Palestine, is the paper’s publisher.
Adelson was buried in the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives, in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem. He was 87.
Haaretz newspaper said that his wife and his son Matan attended the burial.
Israel Hayom quoted Miriam Adelson as saying in an interview ahead of the funeral that she felt “a feeling of great emptiness and loss, but also a sense of comfort, knowing that he is no longer suffering and that he will soon lie in the Mount of Olives, in Zion, next to some of the greatest people of our nation”.
The coffin was carried by a small group of people, in line with Covid-19 restrictions on public assembly, and a wreath of flowers placed on the grave, an AFP photographer witnessed.
The cemetery, where British Jewish media baron Robert Maxwell is also interred, overlooks the Old City’s Temple Mount, the holiest site in the Jewish faith.
– Impassioned opposition to Palestinians –
Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin, the first leader of the Jewish state to make peace with an Arab state, is also entombed at the ancient site, along with prominent rabbis.
In the Bible, the prophet Zachariah announced that the Messiah would make his apparition on earth on Temple Mount, allowing those who are buried on the nearby Mount of Olives to be among the first people resurrected.
Temple Mount, which also houses the Al-Aqsa mosque compound Islamic shrine, is the reputed location of two biblical Jewish temples.
Israel captured mainly-Arab east Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognised internationally.
The Palestinians want the east of the city for the capital of their future state.
The son of a Boston taxi driver, Adelson brought new heights to the gambling industry around the world.
He rose to become one of the richest men on the planet thanks to his chain of casinos. As of Tuesday Forbes magazine estimated his net worth at $35 billion.
Adelson was equally known for his tireless advocacy for Israel and right-wing causes, and for his impassioned opposition to the Palestinian cause.
He caused a furore with many of his remarks, including dismissing the Palestinians as an “invented” people and musing about how the United States should drop a nuclear bomb on Israel’s arch-enemy Iran.
Netanyahu called Adelson “an incredible champion of the Jewish people”.
The Adelson family founded Israel Hayom in 2007, and it is now one of the country’s most popular papers and a strong backer of Netanyahu.