Page last updated at 20:29 GMT, Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Captain of Jewish immigrant ship the Exodus dies

The Jewish immigrant ship the Exodus in 1947
The plight of the Exodus inspired a novel and a film

The skipper of the Jewish immigrant ship the Exodus, which was refused entry to British-controlled Palestine in 1947, has died at the age of 86.

Israeli President Shimon Peres said the captain, Yitzhak (Ike) Aharonovitz, had made a unique contribution to the state of Israel.

The Exodus was carrying over 4,000 mostly Holocaust survivors when the ship was forced to return to Germany.

The incident sparked widespread sympathy for their plight.

After weeks at sea, the refugees were placed in camps in Germany.

After an international outcry, they were transferred to Cyprus by the British authorities, where they remained until the creation of Israel in 1948.

The incident inspired a novel by the American writer, Leon Uris, and a 1960 film starring Paul Newman.

Paying tribute to Mr Aharonovitz, the Israeli president said "Exodus was also his creation, he was not only its captain but a leader that gave the voyage character and determination".

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