ARIEL SHARON (Hebrew : אריאל שרון; IPA: (_ listen ),
Ariʼēl Sharōn_, also known by his diminutive Arik, אַריק, born
ARIEL SCHEINERMANN, אריאל שיינרמן; February 26, 1928
– January 11, 2014) was an Israeli general and politician who served
as the 11th
Prime Minister of Israel
Prime Minister of Israel from March 2001 until April 2006.
Sharon was incapacitated by a stroke in January 2006.
Sharon was a commander in the Israeli Army from its creation in 1948.
As a soldier and then an officer, he participated prominently in the
1948 War of Independence , becoming a platoon commander in the
Alexandroni Brigade and taking part in many battles, including
Operation Bin Nun Alef . He was an instrumental figure in the creation
Unit 101 and the reprisal operations , as well as in the 1956 Suez
Crisis , the
Six-Day War of 1967, the
War of Attrition , and the
Yom-Kippur War of 1973. As Minister of Defense, he directed the 1982
Lebanon War .
Sharon was considered the greatest field commander in Israel's
history, and one of the country's greatest military strategists and
tacticians. Upon retirement from the military, Sharon entered
politics, joining the
Likud , and served in a number of ministerial
posts in Likud-led governments in 1977–92 and 1996–99. He became
the leader of the
Likud in 2000, and served as Israel's prime minister
from 2001 to 2006.
From the 1970s through to the 1990s, Sharon championed construction
of Israeli settlements in the
West Bank and
Gaza Strip . However, as
Prime Minister, in 2004–05 Sharon orchestrated Israel\'s unilateral
disengagement from the
Gaza Strip . Facing stiff opposition to this
policy within the Likud, in November 2005 he left
Likud to form a new
Kadima . He had been expected to win the next election and was
widely interpreted as planning on "clearing
Israel out of most of the
West Bank", in a series of unilateral withdrawals. After suffering
a stroke on January 4, 2006, Sharon remained in a permanent vegetative
state until his death in January 2014.
* 1 Early life
* 2 Military career
* 2.1 Battle for
Jerusalem and 1948 War
* 2.3 1956
* 2.4 Six-Day War,
War of Attrition and
Yom Kippur War
Yom Kippur War
Bar Lev Line
* 3 Early political career, 1974–2001
* 3.1 Beginnings of political career
1982 Lebanon War and
Sabra and Shatila massacre
* 3.2.1 Legal findings
* 3.3 Political downturn and recovery
* 3.3.1 Opposition to the
NATO bombing of Yugoslavia
* 3.4 Campaign for Prime Minister, 2000–01
* 4 Prime Minister (2001–06)
* 4.1 Unilateral disengagement
* 4.2 Disengagement from Gaza
* 4.3 Founding of
* 4.4 Alleged fundraising irregularities and Greek island affair
* 5 Illness, incapacitation and death (2006–14)
* 6 Personal life
* 7 Recognition
* 8 References
* 9 Further reading
* 10 External links
Ariel Sharon at age 14 (second from right)
Sharon was born on February 26, 1928 in
Kfar Malal , an agricultural
moshav , then in
Mandatory Palestine , to Shmuel Scheinerman
(1896–1956) of Brest-Litovsk and Vera (née Schneirov) Scheinerman
Mogilev . His mother, Vera, was from a family of
Russian Subbotnik Jewish origin. His parents met while at university
in Tiflis (now
Tbilisi , Republic of Georgia), where Sharon's father
was studying agronomy and his mother was studying medicine. They
Mandatory Palestine in 1922 in the wake of the Russian
Communist government's growing persecution of Jews in the region.
The family arrived with the Third
Aliyah and settled in Kfar Malal, a
socialist, secular community. (
Ariel Sharon himself would remain
proudly secular throughout his life. ) Although his parents were Mapai
supporters, they did not always accept communal consensus: "The
Scheinermans' eventual ostracism ... followed the 1933 Arlozorov
murder when Dvora and Shmuel refused to endorse the Labor movement's
anti-Revisionist calumny and participate in Bolshevik -style public
revilement rallies, then the order of the day. Retribution was quick
to come. They were expelled from the local health-fund clinic and
village synagogue. The cooperative's truck wouldn't make deliveries to
their farm nor collect produce."
Sharon grew up to be bilingual in both Hebrew and Russian languages.
Four years after their arrival at Kfar Malal, the Sheinermans had a
daughter, Yehudit (Dita). Ariel was born two years later. At age 10,
he joined the youth movement
HaNoar HaOved VeHaLomed . As a teenager,
he began to take part in the armed night-patrols of his moshav . In
1942 at the age of 14, Sharon joined the Gadna , a paramilitary youth
battalion , and later the
Haganah , the underground paramilitary force
and the Jewish military precursor to the
Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
BATTLE FOR JERUSALEM AND 1948 WAR
Operation Bin Nun (24–25 May 1948), during which Sharon was
shot in the stomach, foot and groin.
Sharon's unit of the
Haganah became engaged in serious and continuous
combat from the autumn of 1947, with the onset of the Battle for
Jerusalem . Without the manpower to hold the roads, his unit took to
making offensive hit-and-run raids on Arab forces in the vicinity of
Kfar Malal. In units of thirty men, they would hit constantly at Arab
villages, bridges and bases, as well as ambush the traffic between
Arab villages and bases.
Sharon wrote in his autobiography: "We had become skilled at finding
our way in the darkest nights and gradually we built up the strength
and endurance these kind of operations required. Under the stress of
constant combat we drew closer to one another and began to operate not
just as a military unit but almost as a family. ... e were in combat
almost every day. Ambushes and battles followed each other until they
all seemed to run together."
For his role in a night-raid on Iraqi forces at Bir Adas, Sharon was
made a platoon commander in the
Alexandroni Brigade . Following the
Israeli Declaration of Independence
Israeli Declaration of Independence and the onset of the War of
Independence , his platoon fended off the Iraqi advance at Kalkiya.
Sharon was regarded as a hardened and aggressive soldier, swiftly
moving up the ranks during the war. He was shot in the groin, stomach
and foot by the Jordanian
Arab Legion in the First Battle of Latrun ,
an unsuccessful attempt to relieve the besieged Jewish community of
Jerusalem . Sharon wrote of the casualties in the "horrible battle,"
and his brigade suffered 139 deaths.
Jordanian field marshal
Habis Al-Majali claimed that Sharon was among
6 Israeli soldiers captured by the Jordanian 4th battalion during the
battle, and that Habis took them to a camp in
Mafraq and the 6 were
later traded back. Sharon denied the claims, but Habes was adamant.
"Sharon is like a grizzly bear," he grumbled. "I captured him, I
healed his wounds." In 1994 and during the peace treaty signing
ceremony with Jordan, Sharon wanted to get in touch with his former
captor, but the latter determinedly refused to discuss the incident
After recovering from the wounds received at Latrun, he resumed
command of his patrol unit. On December 28, 1948, his platoon
attempted to break through an Egyptian stronghold in Iraq-El-Manshia.
At about this time, Israeli founding father
David Ben-Gurion gave him
the Hebraized name "Sharon". In September 1949, Sharon was promoted
to company commander (of the
Golani Brigade 's reconnaissance unit)
and in 1950 to intelligence officer for Central Command. He then took
leave to begin studies in history and Middle Eastern culture at the
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Hebrew University of Jerusalem . Sharon's subsequent military career
would be characterized by insubordination, aggression and
disobedience, but also brilliance as a commander.
A year and a half later, on the direct orders of the Prime Minister,
Sharon returned to active service in the rank of major, as the founder
and commander of the new
Unit 101 , a special forces unit tasked with
reprisal operations in response to
Palestinian fedayeen attacks. The
first Israeli commando unit,
Unit 101 specialized in offensive
guerrilla warfare in enemy countries. The unit consisted of 50 men,
mostly former paratroopers and Unit 30 personnel. They were armed with
non-standard weapons and tasked with carrying out special reprisals
across the state's borders— mainly establishing small unit
maneuvers, activation and insertion tactics. Training included
engaging enemy forces across Israel's borders. Israeli historian
Benny Morris describes Unit 101:
The new recruits began a harsh regimen of day and night training,
their orientation and navigation exercises often taking them across
the border; encounters with enemy patrols or village watchmen were
regarded as the best preparation for the missions that lay ahead. Some
commanders, such as Baum and Sharon, deliberately sought firefights.
— Benny Morris, Israel's Border Wars
Unit 101 undertook a series of raids against
Jordan , which then held
West Bank . The raids also helped bolster Israeli morale and
convince Arab states that the fledgling nation was capable of
long-range military action. Known for raids against Arab civilians and
military targets, the unit is held responsible for the widely
Qibya massacre in the fall of 1953. After a group of
Palestinians used Qibya as a staging point for a fedayeen attack in
Yehud that killed a Jewish woman and her two children in Israel, Unit
101 retaliated on the village. By various accounts of the ensuing
attack, 65 to 70 Palestinian civilians, half of them women and
children, were killed when Sharon's troops dynamited 45 houses and a
Facing international condemnation for the attack, Ben-Gurion denied
that the Israeli military was involved. In his memoir, Sharon wrote
that the unit had checked all the houses before detonating the
explosives and that he thought the houses were empty. Although he
admitted the results were tragic, Sharon defended the attack, however:
"Now people could feel that the terrorist gangs would think twice
before striking, now that they knew for sure they would be hit back.
Kibbya also put the Jordanian and Egyptian governments on notice that
Israel was vulnerable, so were they." Sharon, top second from
left, with members of
Unit 101 after
Operation Egged (November 1955).
Standing l to r: Lt.
Meir Har-Zion , Maj. Arik Sharon, Lt. Gen Moshe
Dayan , Capt. Dani Matt, Lt. Moshe Efron, Maj. Gen
Asaf Simchoni ; on
ground, l to r: Capt.
Aharon Davidi , Lt. Ya'akov Ya'akov, Capt. Raful
A few months after its founding,
Unit 101 was merged with the 890
Battalion to create the
Paratroopers Brigade , of which
Sharon would also later become commander. Like Unit 101, it continued
raids into Arab territory, culminating with the attack on the
Qalqilyah police station in the autumn of 1956.
Leading up to the
Suez War, the missions Sharon took part in
* OPERATION SHOSHANA (now known as the Qibya massacre)
* OPERATION BLACK ARROW
* OPERATION ELKAYAM
* OPERATION EGGED
* OPERATION OLIVE LEAVES
* OPERATION VOLCANO
* OPERATION GULLIVER (מבצע גוליבר)
* OPERATION LULAV (מבצע לולב)
During a payback operation in the Deir al-Balah refugee camp in the
Gaza Strip, Sharon was again wounded by gunfire, this time in the leg.
Incidents such as those involving
Meir Har-Zion , along with many
others, contributed to the tension between Prime Minister Moshe
Sharett , who often opposed Sharon's raids, and
Moshe Dayan , who had
become increasingly ambivalent in his feelings towards Sharon. Later
in the year, Sharon was investigated and tried by the Military Police
for disciplining one of his subordinates. However, the charges were
dismissed before the onset of the
1956 SUEZ WAR
Sharon (left), armed with
Ka-Bar combat knife , stands with
other paratroop commandos, before
Operation Olive Leaves , 1955.
Sharon commanded Unit 202 (the Paratroopers Brigade) during the 1956
Suez War (the British "Operation Musketeer "), leading the troop to
take the ground east of the
Mitla Pass and eventually the
pass itself against the advice of superiors, suffering heavy Israeli
casualties in the process. Having successfully carried out the first
part of his mission (joining a battalion parachuted near Mitla with
the rest of the brigade moving on ground), Sharon's unit was deployed
near the pass. Neither reconnaissance aircraft nor scouts reported
enemy forces inside the Mitla Pass. Sharon, whose forces were
initially heading east, away from the pass, reported to his superiors
that he was increasingly concerned with the possibility of an enemy
thrust through the pass, which could attack his brigade from the flank
or the rear. 1956 Israeli conquest of
Sharon asked for permission to attack the pass several times, but his
requests were denied, though he was allowed to check its status so
that if the pass was empty, he could receive permission to take it
later. Sharon sent a small scout force, which was met with heavy fire
and became bogged down due to vehicle malfunction in the middle of the
pass. Sharon ordered the rest of his troops to attack in order to aid
their comrades. Sharon was criticized by his superiors and was damaged
by allegations several years later made by several former
subordinates, who claimed that Sharon tried to provoke the Egyptians
and sent out the scouts in bad faith, ensuring that a battle would
Sharon had assaulted Themed in a dawn attack, and had stormed the
town with his armor through the Themed Gap. Sharon routed the
Sudanese police company, and captured the settlement. On his way to
the Nakla , Sharon's men came under attack from Egyptian MIG-15s. On
the 30th, Sharon linked up with Eytan near Nakla. Dayan had no more
plans for further advances beyond the passes, but Sharon nonetheless
decided to attack the Egyptian positions at Jebel Heitan. Sharon sent
his lightly armed paratroopers against dug-in
Egyptians supported by
aircraft, tanks and heavy artillery. Sharon's actions were in response
to reports of the arrival of the 1st and 2nd Brigades of the 4th
Egyptian Armored Division in the area, which Sharon believed would
annihilate his forces if he did not seize the high ground. Sharon sent
two infantry companies, a mortar battery and some AMX-13 tanks under
the command of
Mordechai Gur into the Heitan Defile on the afternoon
of October 31, 1956. The Egyptian forces occupied strong defensive
positions and brought down heavy anti-tank, mortar and machine gun
fire on the IDF force. Gur's men were forced to retreat into the
"Saucer", where they were surrounded and came under heavy fire.
Hearing of this, Sharon sent in another task force while Gur's men
used the cover of night to scale the walls of the Heitan Defile.
During the ensuing action, the
Egyptians were defeated and forced to
retreat. A total of 260 Egyptian and 38 Israeli soldiers were killed
during the battle at Mitla. Due to these deaths, Sharon's actions at
Mitla were surrounded in controversy, with many within the IDF viewing
the deaths as the result of unnecessary and unauthorized aggression.
SIX-DAY WAR, WAR OF ATTRITION AND YOM KIPPUR WAR
Conquest of Sinai. June 5–6, 1967 "It was a complex plan.
But the elements that went into it were ones I had been developing and
teaching for many years... the idea of close combat, nightfighting,
surprise paratroop assault, attack from the rear, attack on a narrow
front, meticulous planning, the concept of the 'tahbouleh', the
relationship between headquarters and field command... But all the
ideas had matured already; there was nothing new in them. It was
simply a matter of putting all the elements together and making them
work." Ariel Sharon, 1989, on his command at the Battle of Abu-Ageila
Conquest of Sinai. June 7–8, 1967
The Mitla incident hindered Sharon's military career for several
years. In the meantime, he occupied the position of an infantry
brigade commander and received a law degree from
Tel Aviv University .
Yitzhak Rabin became Chief of Staff in 1964, Sharon
began again to rise rapidly in the ranks, occupying the positions of
Infantry School Commander and Head of Army Training Branch, eventually
achieving the rank of
Major General ).
Assigned a defensive role in the 1967
Six-Day War , Sharon, in
command of the most powerful armored division on the
Sinai front ,
instead drew up his own complex offensive strategy that combined
infantry troops, tanks and paratroopers from planes and helicopters to
destroy the Egyptian forces Sharon's brigade faced when it broke
through to the Kusseima-Abu-Ageila fortified area.
Sharon's victories and offensive strategy in the Battle of Abu-Ageila
led to international commendation by military strategists; he was
judged to have inaugurated a new paradigm in operational command.
Researchers at the
United States Army Training and Doctrine Command
studied Sharon's operational planning, concluding that it involved a
number of unique innovations. It was a simultaneous attack by a
multiplicity of small forces, each with a specific aim, attacking a
particular unit in a synergistic Egyptian defense network. As a
result, instead of supporting and covering each other as they were
designed to do, each Egyptian unit was left fighting for its own life.
According to Sapir Handelman, after Sharon's assault of the
Six-Day War and his encirclement of the Egyptian Third Army in the
Yom Kippur War
Yom Kippur War , the Israeli public nicknamed him "The King of
Sharon played a key role in the
War of Attrition . In 1969, he was
appointed the Head of IDF's Southern Command . As leader of the
southern command, on July 29 Israeli frogmen stormed and destroyed
Green Island, a fortress at the northern end of the Gulf of
radar and antiaircraft installations controlled that sector's
airspace. On September 9 Sharon's forces carried out a large-scale
raid along the western shore of the Gulf of Suez. Landing craft
ferried across Russian-made tanks and armored personnel carriers that
Israel had captured in 1967, and the small column harried the
Egyptians for ten hours.
Following his appointment to the southern command, Sharon had no
further promotions, and considered retiring. Sharon discussed the
issue with Rabbi
Menachem M. Schneerson , who strongly advised him to
remain at his post. Sharon remained in the military for another three
years, before retiring in August 1973. Soon after, he helped found the
Likud ("Unity") political party. _ Operation Gazelle_, Israel's
ground maneuver, encircles the Egyptian Third Army, October 1973
At the start of the
Yom Kippur War
Yom Kippur War on October 6, 1973, Sharon was
called back to active duty along with his assigned reserve armored
division . On his farm, before he left for the front line, the Reserve
Commander, Zeev Amit, said to him, "How are we going to get out of
this?" Sharon replied, "You don't know? We will cross the
and the war will end over there." Sharon arrived at the front, to
participate in his fourth war, in a civilian car. His forces did not
Egyptian Army immediately, despite his requests. Under
cover of darkness, Sharon's forces moved to a point on the
that had been prepared before the war. In a move that again thwarted
the commands of his superiors, Sharon's division crossed the Suez,
effectively winning the war for Israel. He then headed north towards
Ismailia, intent on cutting the Egyptian second army's supply lines,
but his division was halted south of the
Fresh Water Canal .
Sharon's 143rd Division, crossing the
Suez Canal, in the direction of
Cairo, October 15, 1973
Abraham Adan 's division passed over the bridgehead into Africa,
advancing to within 101 kilometers of
Cairo . His division managed to
Suez , cutting off and encircling the Third Army. Tensions
between the two generals followed Sharon's decision, but a military
tribunal later found his action was militarily effective.
Sharon's complex ground maneuver is regarded as a decisive move in
the Yom Kippur War, undermining the Egyptian Second Army and
encircling the Egyptian Third Army. This move was regarded by many
Israelis as the turning point of the war in the
Sinai front. Thus,
Sharon is widely viewed as the hero of the Yom Kippur War, responsible
for Israel's ground victory in the
Sinai in 1973. A photo of Sharon
wearing a head bandage on the
Suez Canal became a famous symbol of
Israeli military prowess.
Sharon's political positions were controversial, and he was relieved
of duty in February 1974.
BAR LEV LINE
Bar Lev Line
Following Israel's victory in the six day war, the war of attrition
Suez Canal began. The
Egyptians began firing in provocation
against the Israeli forces posted on the eastern part of the canal.
Haim Bar Lev , Israel's chief of staff, suggested that Israel
construct a border line to protect its southern border. A wall of sand
and earth raised along almost the entire length of the
would both allow observation of Egyptian forces and conceal the
movements of Israeli troops on the eastern side. This line, named
after the chief of staff Haim Bar Lev, became known as the Bar Lev
Line . It included at least thirty strong points stretching over
almost 200 kilometers.
Bar Lev suggested that such a line would defend against any major
Egyptian assault across the canal, and was expected to function as a
"graveyard for Egyptian troops".
Moshe Dayan described it as "one of
the best anti-tank ditches in the world."
Israel Tal on the other hand, vigorously opposed the
line. Sharon said that it would pin down large military formations
that would be sitting ducks for deadly artillery attacks, and cited
the opinion of Rabbi
Menachem M. Schneerson , who explained him "the
great military disaster such a line could bring." Notwithstanding,
it was completed in spring 1970.
Yom Kippur War
Yom Kippur War , Egyptian forces successfully breached the
Bar Lev Line in less than two hours. At a cost of more than a thousand
dead and some 5,000 wounded. Sharon would later recall that what
Schneerson had told him was a tragedy, "but unfortunately, that
EARLY POLITICAL CAREER, 1974–2001
BEGINNINGS OF POLITICAL CAREER
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In the 1940s and 1950s, Sharon seemed to be personally devoted to the
Mapai , the predecessor of the modern Labor Party . However,
after retiring from military service, he joined the Liberal Party and
was instrumental in establishing
Likud in July 1973 by a merger of
Herut , the Liberal Party and independent elements. Sharon became
chairman of the campaign staff for that year\'s elections , which were
scheduled for November. Two and a half weeks after the start of the
election campaign, the
Yom Kippur War
Yom Kippur War erupted and Sharon was called
back to reserve service. On the heels of being hailed as a war hero
for crossing the
Suez in the 1973 war, Sharon won a seat to the
Knesset in the elections that year, but resigned a year later.
Ariel Sharon (left), at the Battle of Abu-Ageila
From June 1975 to March 1976, Sharon was a special aide to Prime
Yitzhak Rabin . He planned his return to politics for the
1977 elections ; first, he tried to return to the
Likud and replace
Menachem Begin at the head of the party. He suggested to Simha Erlich
, who headed the Liberal Party bloc in the Likud, that he was more
fitting than Begin to win an election victory; he was rejected,
however. He then tried to join the Labor Party and the centrist
Democratic Movement for Change , but was rejected by those parties
too. Only then did he form his own list, Shlomtzion , which won two
Knesset seats in the subsequent elections. Immediately after the
elections, he merged Shlomtzion with the
Likud and became Minister of
When Sharon joined Begin's government, he had relatively little
political experience. During this period, Sharon supported the Gush
Emunim settlements movement and was viewed as the patron of the
settlers' movement. He used his position to encourage the
establishment of a network of Israeli settlements in the occupied
territories to prevent the possibility of Palestinian Arabs ' return
to these territories. Sharon doubled the number of Jewish settlements
West Bank and
Gaza Strip during his tenure.
After the 1981 elections, Begin rewarded Sharon for his important
contribution to Likud's narrow win, by appointing him Minister of
Israel continued to build upon the unprecedented
coordination between the
Israel Defense Forces and the South African
Defence Force , with Israeli and South African generals giving each
other unfettered access to each other's battlefields and military
Israel sharing with South Africa highly classified
information about its missions, such as
Operation Opera , which had
previously only been reserved for the United States. In 1981, after
visiting South African forces fighting in Namibia for 10 days, Sharon
argued that South Africa needed more weapons to fight Soviet
infiltration in the region. Sharon promised that the relationship
Israel and South Africa would continue to deepen as they work
to "ensure the National Defense of both our countries". The
collaboration in carrying out joint-nuclear tests, in planning
counter-insurgency strategies in Namibia and in designing security
fences helped to make Israel, South Africa's closest ally in this
1982 LEBANON WAR AND SABRA AND SHATILA MASSACRE
Minister of Defense Sharon (right) and
Caspar Weinberger , 1982
As Defense Minister, Sharon launched an invasion of Lebanon called
Operation Peace for Galilee, later known as the
1982 Lebanon War ,
following the shooting of Israel's ambassador in London, Shlomo Argov
. Although this attempted assassination was in fact perpetrated by the
Abu Nidal Organization , possibly with Syrian or Iraqi involvement,
the Israeli government justified the invasion by citing 270 terrorist
attacks by the
Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in Israel,
the occupied territories, and the Jordanian and Lebanese border (in
addition to 20 attacks on Israeli interests abroad). Sharon intended
the operation to eradicate the PLO from its state within a state
inside Lebanon, but the war is primarily remembered for the Sabra and
Shatila massacre . In a three-day massacre between September 16 and
18, between 460 and 3,500 civilians, mostly Palestinians and
Lebanese Shiites , in the Sabra neighborhood and the adjacent Shatila
refugee camp were killed by the Phalanges — Lebanese Maronite
Christian militias. Chatila had previously been one of the PLO's
three main training camps for foreign terrorists and the main training
camp for European terrorists; the Israelis maintained that 2,000 to
3,000 terrorists remained in the camps, but were unwilling to risk the
lives of more of their soldiers after the Lebanese army repeatedly
refused to "clear them out." The killings followed years of sectarian
civil war in Lebanon that left 95,000 dead. The Lebanese army's chief
prosecutor investigated the killings and counted 460 dead, Israeli
intelligence estimated 700-800 dead, and the Palestinian Red Crescent
claimed 2,000 dead. 1,200 death certificates were issued to anyone who
produced three witnesses claiming a family member disappeared during
the time of the massacre. Nearly all of the victims were men.
The Phalange militia went into the camps to clear out PLO fighters
while Israeli forces surrounded the camps, blocking camp exits and
providing logistical support. The killings led some to label Sharon
"the Butcher of Beirut".
Associated Press report on September 15, 1982 stated, "Defence
Minister Ariel Sharon, in a statement, tied the killing of the
Bachir Gemayel to the PLO, saying 'it symbolises the
terrorist murderousness of the PLO terrorist organisations and their
supporters'." Habib Chartouni, a Lebanese Christian from the Syrian
Socialist National Party confessed to the murder of Gemayel, and no
Palestinians were involved.
Robert Maroun Hatem, Hobeika's bodyguard, stated in his book _From
Israel to Damascus_ that Phalangist commander
Elie Hobeika ordered the
massacre of civilians in defiance of Israeli instructions to behave
like a "dignified" army. Hatem claimed "Sharon had given strict
orders to Hobeika....to guard against any desperate move" and that
Hobeika perpetrated the massacre "to tarnish Israel's reputation
worldwide" for the benefit of Syria. Hobeika subsequently joined the
Syrian occupation government and lived as a prosperous businessman
under Syrian protection; further massacres in Sabra and Shatilla
occurred with Syrian support in 1985.
The massacre followed intense Israeli bombings of
Beirut that had
seen heavy civilian casualties, testing Israel's relationship with the
United States in the process. America sent troops to help negotiate
the PLO's exit from Lebanon, withdrawing them after negotiating a
ceasefire that ostensibly protected Palestinian civilians.
Peace Now protesters rallied in
Tel Aviv to demand an
official government inquiry into the massacres, the official Israeli
government investigation into the massacre at Sabra and Shatila, the
Kahan Commission (1982), was conducted. The inquiry found that the
Israeli Defense Forces were indirectly responsible for the massacre
since IDF troops held the area. The commission determined that the
killings carried out by a Phalangist unit acting on its own, but its
entry was known to
Israel and approved by Sharon. Prime Minister Begin
was also found responsible for not exercising greater involvement and
awareness in the matter of introducing the Phalangists into the camps.
The commission also concluded that Sharon bore personal
responsibility "for ignoring the danger of bloodshed and revenge not
taking appropriate measures to prevent bloodshed". It said Sharon's
negligence in protecting the civilian population of Beirut, which had
come under Israeli control, amounted to a dereliction of duty of the
minister. In early 1983, the commission recommended the removal of
Sharon from his post as defense minister and stated:
We have found ... that the Minister of Defense bears personal
responsibility. In our opinion, it is fitting that the Minister of
Defense draw the appropriate personal conclusions arising out of the
defects revealed with regard to the manner in which he discharged the
duties of his office— and if necessary, that the Prime Minister
consider whether he should exercise his authority ... to ... remove
Sharon initially refused to resign as defense minister, and Begin
refused to fire him. After a grenade was thrown into a dispersing
crowd at an Israeli
Peace Now march, killing
Emil Grunzweig and
injuring 10 others, a compromise was reached: Sharon agreed to forfeit
the post of defense minister but stayed in the cabinet as a minister
without portfolio .
Sharon's resignation as defense minister is listed as one of the
important events of the
Tenth Knesset .
In its February 21, 1983 issue, _Time _ published an article implying
that Sharon was directly responsible for the massacres. Sharon sued
_Time_ for libel in American and Israeli courts. Although the jury
concluded that the _Time_ article included false allegations, they
found that the magazine had not acted with actual malice and so was
not guilty of libel.
On June 18, 2001, relatives of the victims of the Sabra massacre
began proceedings in Belgium to have Sharon indicted on alleged war
crimes charges. Elie Hobeika, the leader of the Phalange militia who
carried out the massacres, was assassinated in January 2002, several
months before he was scheduled to testify trial. Prior to his
assassination, he had "specifically stated that he did not plan to
identify Sharon as being responsible for Sabra and Shatila."
POLITICAL DOWNTURN AND RECOVERY
"I begin with the basic conviction that Jews and Arabs can live
together. I have repeated that at every opportunity, not for
journalists and not for popular consumption, but because I have never
believed differently or thought differently, from my childhood on. ...
I know that we are both inhabitants of the land, and although the
state is Jewish, that does not mean that Arabs should not be full
citizens in every sense of the word." Ariel Sharon, 1989
After his dismissal from the Defense Ministry post, Sharon remained
in successive governments as a minister without portfolio
(1983–1984), Minister for Trade and Industry (1984–1990), and
Minister of Housing Construction (1990–1992). In the Knesset, he was
member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense committee (1990–1992) and
Chairman of the committee overseeing Jewish immigration from the
Soviet Union . During this period he was a rival to then prime
Yitzhak Shamir , but failed in various bids to replace him as
chairman of Likud. Their rivalry reached a head in February 1990, when
Sharon grabbed the microphone from Shamir, who was addressing the
Likud central committee, and famously exclaimed: "Who's for wiping out
terrorism?" The incident was widely viewed as an apparent coup
attempt against Shamir's leadership of the party.
Benjamin Netanyahu 's 1996–1999 government, Sharon was Minister
of National Infrastructure (1996–98), and Foreign Minister
(1998–99). Upon the election of the Barak Labor government, Sharon
became leader of the
Opposition To The NATO Bombing Of Yugoslavia
Ariel Sharon criticised the
NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 as an
act of "brutal interventionism". Sharon said both Serbia and Kosovo
have been victims of violence. He said prior to the current Yugoslav
campaign against Kosovo Albanians, Serbians were the targets of
attacks in the Kosovo province. "
Israel has a clear policy. We are
against aggressive actions. We are against hurting innocent people. I
hope that the sides will return to the negotiating table as soon as
possible." During the crisis, Elyakim Haetzni said the Serbs should be
the first to receive Israeli aid. "There are our traditional friends,"
Israel Radio." It was suggested that Sharon may have
supported the Yugoslav position because of the Serbian population's
history of saving Jews during the holocaust. On Sharon's death,
Aleksandar Vulin stated: The Serbian people will
remember Sharon for opposing the 1999 NATO bombing campaign against
the former Yugoslavia and advocating respect for sovereignty of other
nations and a policy of not interfering with their internal affairs.
CAMPAIGN FOR PRIME MINISTER, 2000–01
On September 28, 2000, Sharon and an escort of over 1,000 Israeli
police officers visited the
Temple Mount complex, site of the Dome of
the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque , the holiest place in the world to Jews
and the third holiest site in Islam. Sharon declared that the complex
would remain under perpetual Israeli control. Palestinian commentators
accused Sharon of purposely inflaming emotions with the event to
provoke a violent response and obstruct success of delicate ongoing
peace talks. On the following day, a large number of Palestinian
demonstrators and an Israeli police contingent confronted each other
at the site. According to the
U.S. State Department , "Palestinians
held large demonstrations and threw stones at police in the vicinity
of the Western Wall. Police used rubber-coated metal bullets and live
ammunition to disperse the demonstrators, killing 4 persons and
injuring about 200." According to the government of Israel, 14
policemen were injured.
Sharon's visit, a few months before his election as Prime Minister,
came after archeologists claimed that extensive building operations at
the site were destroying priceless antiquities. Sharon's supporters
Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian National Authority
Second Intifada months prior to Sharon's visit. They
state that Palestinian security chief Jabril Rajoub provided
assurances that if Sharon did not enter the mosques, no problems would
arise. They also often quote statements by Palestinian Authority
officials, particularly Imad Falouji, the P.A. Communications
Minister, who admitted months after Sharon's visit that the violence
had been planned in July, far in advance of Sharon's visit, stating
the intifada "was carefully planned since the return of (Palestinian
Yasser Arafat from Camp David negotiations rejecting the
U.S. conditions". According to the Mitchell Report ,
the government of
Israel asserted that the immediate catalyst for the
violence was the breakdown of the Camp David negotiations on 25 July
2000 and the "widespread appreciation in the international community
of Palestinian responsibility for the impasse." In this view,
Palestinian violence was planned by the PA leadership, and was aimed
at "provoking and incurring Palestinian casualties as a means of
regaining the diplomatic initiative."
The Mitchell Report found that
the Sharon visit did not cause the Al-Aqsa Intifada. But it was
poorly timed and the provocative effect should have been foreseen;
indeed, it was foreseen by those who urged that the visit be
prohibited. More significant were the events that followed: The
decision of the Israeli police on 29 September to use lethal means
against the Palestinian demonstrators.
In addition, the report stated,
Accordingly, we have no basis on which to conclude that there was a
deliberate plan by the PA to initiate a campaign of violence at the
first opportunity; or to conclude that there was a deliberate plan by
the GOI to respond with lethal force._ _
The Or Commission, an Israeli panel of inquiry appointed to
investigate the October 2000 events,
criticised the Israeli police for being unprepared for the riots and
possibly using excessive force to disperse the mobs, resulting in the
deaths of 12 Arab Israeli, one Jewish and one Palestinian citizens.
PRIME MINISTER (2001–06)
Sharon and President
Vladimir Putin meeting in Israel.
George W. Bush , center, discusses the Israeli–Palestinian
peace process with Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon of Israel, left, and
Prime Minister of the
Palestinian National Authority
Mahmoud Abbas in
Aqaba , Jordan, June 4, 2003. Prime Minister of the Palestinian
Mahmoud Abbas ,
United States President George W.
Bush , and Ariel Sharon, Red Sea Summit,
Aqaba , June 2003
President Bush and Prime Minister Sharon,
White House , April 2004
After the collapse of Barak's government, Sharon was elected Prime
Minister on 6 February 2001 , defeating Barak 68 percent to 32
percent. Sharon's senior adviser was
Raanan Gissin . In his first act
as prime minister, Sharon invited the Labor Party to join in a
coalition with Likud. After
Israel was struck by a wave of suicide
bombings in 2002, Sharon decided to launch Operation Defensive Shield
and began the construction of a barrier around the West Bank. A survey
Tel Aviv University's Jaffe Center in May 2004 found that
80% of Jewish Israelis believed that the
Israel Defense Forces had
succeeded in militarily countering the Al-Aqsa Intifada.
The election of the more pro-Russian Sharon, as well as the more
Vladimir Putin , led to an improvement in Israel–Russia
In September 2003, Sharon became the first prime minister of Israel
India , saying that
India as one of the most
important countries in the world. Some analysts speculated on the
development of a three-way military axis of
New Delhi , Washington,
On July 20, 2004, Sharon called on French Jews to emigrate from
Israel immediately, in light of an increase in antisemitism
in France (94 antisemitic assaults were reported in the first six
months of 2004, compared to 47 in 2003). France has the third-largest
Jewish population in the world (about 600,000 people). Sharon observed
that an "unfettered anti-Semitism" reigned in France. The French
government responded by describing his comments as "unacceptable", as
did the French representative Jewish organization CRIF , which denied
Sharon's claim of intense anti-Semitism in French society. An Israeli
spokesperson later claimed that Sharon had been misunderstood. France
then postponed a visit by Sharon. Upon his visit, both Sharon and
Jacques Chirac were described as showing a
willingness to put the issue behind them.
Main article: Israel\'s unilateral disengagement plan
In September 2001, Sharon stated for the first time that Palestinians
should have the right to establish their own land west of the Jordan
River . In May 2003, Sharon endorsed the
Road Map for Peace put forth
by the United States,
European Union , and Russia, which opened a
Mahmud Abbas , and announced his commitment to the
creation of a Palestinian state in the future.
He embarked on a course of unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip
, while maintaining control of its coastline and airspace. Sharon's
plan was welcomed by both the
Palestinian Authority and Israel's left
wing as a step towards a final peace settlement. However, it was
greeted with opposition from within his own
Likud party and from other
right wing Israelis, on national security, military, and religious
DISENGAGEMENT FROM GAZA
On December 1, 2004, Sharon dismissed five ministers from the Shinui
party for voting against the government's 2005 budget. In January
2005, Sharon formed a national unity government that included
representatives of Likud, Labor, and
Degel HaTorah as
"out-of-government" supporters without any seats in the government
United Torah Judaism parties usually reject having ministerial
offices as a policy). Between August 16 and 30, 2005, Sharon
controversially expelled 9,480 Jewish settlers from 21 settlements in
Gaza and four settlements in the northern West Bank. Once it became
clear that the evictions were definitely going ahead, a group of
conservative Rabbis, led by
Yosef Dayan , placed an ancient curse on
Sharon known as the
Pulsa diNura , calling on the Angel of Death to
intervene and kill him. After Israeli soldiers bulldozed every
settlement structure except for several former synagogues, Israeli
soldiers formally left Gaza on September 11, 2005 and closed the
border fence at
Kissufim . While his decision to withdraw from Gaza
sparked bitter protests from members of the
Likud party and the
settler movement, opinion polls showed that it was a popular move
among most of the Israeli electorate, with more than 80 percent of
Israelis backing the plans. On September 27, 2005, Sharon narrowly
defeated a leadership challenge by a 52–48 percent vote. The move
was initiated within the central committee of the governing Likud
party by Sharon's main rival,
Benjamin Netanyahu , who had left the
cabinet to protest Sharon's withdrawal from Gaza. The measure was an
attempt by Netanyahu to call an early primary in November 2005 to
choose the party's leader.
FOUNDING OF KADIMA
On November 21, 2005, Sharon resigned as head of Likud, and dissolved
parliament to form a new centrist party called
November polls indicated that Sharon was likely to be returned to the
prime ministership. On December 20, 2005, Sharon's longtime rival
Netanyahu was elected his successor as leader of Likud. Following
Ehud Olmert replaced Sharon as Kadima's
leader, for the nearing general elections. Likud, along with the Labor
Party , were _Kadima'_s chief rivals in the March 2006 elections .
Sharon's stroke occurred a few months before he had been expected to
win a new election and was widely interpreted as planning on "clearing
Israel out of most of the West Bank", in a series of unilateral
In the elections, which saw Israel's lowest-ever voter turnout of 64
percent (the number usually averages on the high 70%), Kadima, headed
by Olmert, received the most Knesset seats, followed by Labor. The new
governing coalition installed in May 2006 included Kadima, with Olmert
as Prime Minister, Labor (including
Amir Peretz as Defense Minister),
the Gil (Pensioner's) Party, the Shas religious party, and Israel
ALLEGED FUNDRAISING IRREGULARITIES AND GREEK ISLAND AFFAIR
During the latter part of his career, Sharon was investigated for
alleged involvement in a number of financial scandals, in particular,
Greek Island Affair and irregularities of fundraising during the
1999 election campaign. In the Greek Island Affair, Sharon was accused
of promising (during his term as Foreign Minister) to help Israeli
businessman David Appel in his development project on a Greek island
in exchange for large consultancy payments to Sharon's son Gilad. The
charges were later dropped due to lack of evidence. In the 1999
election fundraising scandal, Sharon was not charged with any
wrongdoing, but his son Omri , a Knesset member at the time, was
charged and sentenced in 2006 to nine months in prison.
To avoid a potential conflict of interest in relation to these
investigations, Sharon was not involved in the confirmation of the
appointment of a new attorney general,
Menahem Mazuz , in 2005.
On December 10, 2005, Israeli police raided
Martin Schlaff 's
apartment in Jerusalem. Another suspect in the case was Robert
Nowikovsky, an Austrian involved in Russian state-owned company
Gazprom 's business activities in Europe.
According to _Haaretz_, "The $3 million that parachuted into Gilad
and Omri Sharon's bank account toward the end of 2002 was transferred
there in the context of a consultancy contract for development of
kolkhozes (collective farms) in Russia. Gilad Sharon was brought into
the campaign to make the wilderness bloom in
Russia by Getex, a large
Russian-based exporter of seeds (peas, millet, wheat) from Eastern
Europe. Getex also has ties with Israeli firms involved in exporting
wheat from Ukraine, for example. The company owns farms in Eastern
Europe and is considered large and prominent in its field. It has its
Vienna offices in the same building as Jurimex, which was behind the
$1-million guarantee to the
Yisrael Beiteinu party."
On December 17, police announced that they had found evidence of a $3
million bribe paid to Sharon's sons. Shortly after the announcement,
Sharon suffered a stroke.
ILLNESS, INCAPACITATION AND DEATH (2006–14)
Death and funeral of Ariel Sharon
"I love life. I love all of it, and in fact I love food."
—Ariel Sharon, 1982
Sharon suffered from obesity from the 1980s and also had suspected
chronic high blood pressure and high cholesterol – at 170 cm (5 ft 7
in) tall, he was reputed to weigh 115 kg (254 lb). Stories of
Sharon's appetite and obesity were legendary in Israel. He would often
joke about his love of food and expansive girth. His staff car would
reportedly be stocked with snacks, vodka, and caviar. In October 2004
when asked why he did not wear a bulletproof vest despite frequent
death threats, Sharon smiled and replied, "There is none that fits my
size". He was a daily consumer of cigars and luxury foods. Numerous
attempts by doctors, friends, and staff to impose a balanced diet on
Sharon were unsuccessful.
Sharon was hospitalized on December 18, 2005, after suffering a minor
ischemic stroke . During his hospital stay, doctors discovered a heart
defect requiring surgery and ordered bed rest pending a cardiac
catheterization scheduled for January 5, 2006. Instead, Sharon
immediately returned to work and suffered a hemorrhagic stroke on
January 4, the day before surgery. After two surgeries lasting 7 and
14 hours, doctors stopped the bleeding in Sharon's brain, but were
unable to prevent him from entering into a coma. Subsequent media
reports indicated that Sharon had been diagnosed with cerebral amyloid
angiopathy (CAA) during his December hospitalisation. Hadassah
Hospital Director Shlomo Mor-Yosef declined to respond to comments
that the combination of CAA and blood thinners after Sharon's December
stroke might have caused his more serious subsequent stroke.
Ehud Olmert became Acting Prime Minister the night of Sharon's second
stroke, while Sharon was only officially in office. Knesset elections
followed in March, with Olmert and Sharon's
Kadima party winning a
plurality. The next month, the Israeli Cabinet declared Sharon
permanently incapacitated and Olmert officially became Interim Prime
Minister in office on April 14, 2006 until his new established
government made him Prime Minister in his own right on 4 May.
Sharon underwent a series of subsequent surgeries related to his
state. He remained in a long-term care facility from November 6, 2006
until the time of his death. Medical experts indicated that his
cognitive abilities had likely been destroyed by the stroke. His
condition worsened from late 2013, and Sharon suffered from renal
failure on January 1, 2014.
After spending eight years in a coma, Sharon died at 14:00 local time
(12:00 UTC ) on January 11, 2014. Sharon\'s state funeral was held
on January 13 in accordance with Jewish burial customs , which require
that interment takes place as soon after death as possible. His body
lay in state in the Knesset Plaza from January 12 until the official
ceremony, followed by a funeral held at the family's ranch in the
Negev Desert . Sharon was buried beside his wife, Lily.
Sharon was married twice, to two sisters, Margalit and Lily
Zimmerman, who were from
Romania . Sharon met Margalit in 1947 when
she was 16, while she was tending a vegetable field, and married her
in 1953, shortly after becoming a military instructor . Margalit was a
supervisory psychiatric nurse. They had one son, Gur. Margalit died
in a car accident in May 1962 and Gur died in October 1967, aged 11,
after a friend accidentally shot him while the two children were
playing with a rifle at the Sharon family home. After Margalit's
death, Sharon married her younger sister, Lily. They had two sons,
Omri and Gilad, and six grandchildren. Lily Sharon died of lung
cancer in 2000.
Sharon's sister, Yehudit (Dita) married Dr. Shmuel Mandel. In the
1950s, the couple permanently left
Israel and emigrated to the United
States . This caused a permanent rift in the family. Shmuel and Vera
Scheinerman were greatly hurt by their daughter's choice to leave
Israel. As a result, Vera Scheinerman willed only a small part of her
estate to Dita, an act which enraged her. At one point, Dita decided
to return to Israel, but after Vera was informed by the
Administration that it would not be legally possible to split the
family property between Ariel and Dita, and informed her that she
would not be able to build a home there, Dita, believing she was being
lied to, permanently cut her family in
Israel off, and refused to
attend the funerals of her mother and sister-in-law. She reestablished
contact after Sharon's stroke. Sharon's sister has rarely been
mentioned in biographies of him: he himself rarely acknowledged her
and only mentioned her twice in his autobiography.
A $250 million park named for
Ariel Sharon is under construction
Tel Aviv . When complete, the
Ariel Sharon Park will be three
times the size of New York's Central Park and introduce many new
ecological technologies. A 50,000-seat amphitheatre is also planned as
a national concert venue.
In the Negev desert, the IDF is currently building its city of
Camp Ariel Sharon . In total, a NIS 50 billion
project, the city of bases is named after Ariel Sharon, the largest
active construction project in Israel, it is to become the largest IDF
base in Israel.
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