JERUSALEM (AP) — Haim Gouri, a leading Israeli poet of the state's founding generation, died Wednesday, according to media reports. He was 94.

President Reuven Rivlin in a statement mourned his passing as "the national poet of our time" and a "life teacher."

Gouri was born in Tel Aviv and fought in the Palmach, the elite force of the pre-state militia later serving in Israel's army, reports said.

He was a prolific and influential poet with songs about the birth of modern Israel that became deeply rooted in the country's ethos.

He was not shy in airing his political views and was critical of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government. Five years ago he told parliament that despite "knowing almost every stone in this land" he now "has difficulty recognizing it."

Gouri was the recipient of several prestigious awards for his work, including the Israel Prize, the country's top honor.

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