Though she never studied acting, she got her first lead role in The Intended in 1990.
And she earned the first of several Israeli Ophir Awards for her turn as Pnina in the 1994 family drama Sh’Chur.
It was in 1997 that she moved to Paris where she studied at Ariane Mnouchkine's Théâtre du Soleil, the avant-garde stage troupe.
In 2001 her role in the French film Origine Contrôlée marked the start of her fame in France.
Other films in which she appeared include André Téchiné's La Fille du RER, co-starring Catherine Deneuve, and Fanny Ardant's Blood and Ashes.
Or: My Treasure won the Camera d’Or and the Grand Prize Prix Regards Jeune Award for Best Feature at that year’s Cannes Film Festival,
But Elkabetz decided to branch out into film-making and with her brother Shlomi in 2004 launched the Viviane Amsalem trilogy, about a woman trapped in an unhappy marriage made worse by the weight of religious custom.
The third instalment, Gett, The Trial of Viviane Amsalem, was nominated in the foreign-language category for the US's 2015 Golden Globe Awards.
In 2015 Elkabetz also presided over Cannes’ Critics Week.
Former Israeli president Shimon Peres this Tuesday called Elkabetz “an extraordinary cultural ambassador for the state of Israel”.
He added that she "represented the citizens of Israel and the state of Israel with great pride, creativity and beauty”.
Her coffin will be displayed at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque on Wednesday.
The funeral will take place later that day at the Kiryat Shaul cemetery.
She is survived by her husband, the architect Avner Yashar, and three-year-old twins.
Ronit Elkabetz, a life in dates
27 November 1964: Born in Beersheba, Israel, of Jewish Moroccan parents;
1990: The Intended, her first film appearance, next to actor Shuli Rand, who later became her partner;
1992: Appears in Israeli director Gidi Dar's Eddie King;
1994: Appears in Sh'Chur, for which she wins her first Israeli Film Academy Award (Ophir);
1995: Cowrites Scar with her then partner Haim Buzaglo;
1996: Appears in Metamorphosis of a Melody, directed by Amos Gitai;
1997: Moves to Paris to study in Ariane Mnouchkine's Théâtre du Soleil, performs one-woman show on the life of choreographer Martha Graham at the Avignon Festival;
2001: Stars in the French film Origine contrôlée, wins her second Ophir Award for Late Marriage;
2003: Works again with Amos Gitai on Alila;
2004: Nominated for an Ophir Award for Or (My Treasure), stars in the Israeli legal drama series Franco and Spector;
2004: Writes and directs with her brother Shlomi To Take a Wife, the first in the Viviane Amsalem trilogy;
2006: Stars in the Israeli drama series Parashat HaShavua;
2007: Wins her third Ophir Award for her part in Eran Kolirin's The Band's Visit;
2007: Writes and directs Shiva (Seven Days), the second in the Viviane Ansalem trilogy, with Shlomi, winning the Wolgin Award for Best Feature Film at the 2008 Jerusalem Film Festival;
2009: Stars, alongside Catherine Deneuve, in André Téchiné's La Fille du RER;
2010: Acts in Fanny Ardant's Ashes and Blood, Pascal Elbé's Turk's Head and Brigitte Sy's Les Mains Libres.
2010: Ophir Award nomination for Best Actress for her work in Mabul;
2011: Is the subject of Nir Bergman's documentary A Stranger in Paris;
2014: Gett – The Trial of Viviane Amsallem, the last in the trilogy, is selected to be screened as part of the Directors' Fortnight section of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival;
2015: Gett is nominated in the foreign language category for the 2015 Golden Globe Awards;
19 April 2016: dies following a long battle against cancer.