Jerusalem (AFP) - Israeli photojournalist David Rubinger, whose picture of Israeli paratroopers gazing at the Western Wall after capturing east Jerusalem was perhaps the defining image of the 1967 Six-Day War, has died aged 92.
"David Rubinger passed away peacefully in Jerusalem (on Wednesday)," the Foreign Press Association (FPA) announced.
Born on June 24, 1924 in Vienna, Rubinger fled the Nazis to British-ruled Palestine in 1939 and served with the Jewish Brigade of the British Army in World War II.
In his 2007 book "Israel Through My Lens: Sixty Years As a Photojournalist" he describes how after starting to work in photojournalism after his military service he was taken on by Time-Life magazine.
He stayed with it for 50 years covering Israel's wars and politics but also providing a social and cultural history of the Jewish state as it grew, turning his camera on successive waves of Jewish immigrants from Europe, the Arab world, Russia, and Ethiopia.
His photo of Israeli paratroopers gazing at the Western Wall holy site in the Old City in east Jerusalem became an iconic image of the Six-Day War.
The Israeli army had just captured the wall, considered by Jews as the holiest site at which to pray, for the first time since Israel was founded in 1948, and the soldiers look awestruck.
In recognition of his work Rubinger was awarded the prestigious Israel Prize in 1997.
"Over his illustrious career, Rubinger took over a half a million pictures that tell the story of the state of Israel," the Haaretz daily said on Thursday.
"Rubinger's photographs documented key moments in Israel's history and helped define its collective conscious."
His funeral will be held on Friday in Jerusalem, the FPA said, with members of the public invited to pay respects.
- 'Etched in memories' -
"On this sad day we bow our heads on the passing of a master photographer from a generation of giants," said Nitzan Chen, director of Israel's Government Press Office.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin paid tribute to Rubinger's life and work.
"There are those who write the pages of history, and there are those who illustrate them through their camera's lens," he said in a statement.
"Through his photography, David eternalised history as it will be forever etched in our memories."
Jonathan Spyer, director of Israel's Rubin Centre for international affairs research, said Rubinger "had the ability to make people feel their own image a little more clearly."
An affable, sociable man with a gift for storytelling, Rubinger was held in deep affection by colleagues.
Despite decades in the rough and tumble of the Middle East he maintained his courtly Viennese manners.
In "Israel Through My Lens" he writes with humility and gratitude about his career.
"I went through ten wars unscathed and survived countless other high-risk situations, and I have reached the peak of the photographic profession, with worldwide recognition for my work, being the oldest person on the masthead of TIME, one of the world's most prestigious magazines," he wrote.
"I have had personal access to many of the world's leaders and other fascinating personalities, as well as the support of a wonderful family -- my two children, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren."
He goes on to define what he calls "the secret of a fulfilled life".
"Try to live every day as if it is your last, but plan your future as though there were endless tomorrows."