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Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, 85, Dies
After eight years of a comatose state and after deterioration in his health this past month, Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon finally passed away on Shabbat, January 11th, 2014, at the age of 85. His adopted son, Roni Schayak made the announcement.
Ariel Sharon, also known as Arik, was born as Ariel Scheinermann, (February 26th 1928). He was an Israeli statesman and retired general, who served as Israel’s 11th Prime Minister.
He was born in Kfar Malal, then in the British Mandate of Palestine, to a family of Belarusian Jews. His parents fled the pogroms associated with the Russian Civil War. In 1942, at the young age of 14, Sharon joined the Gadna, a paramilitary youth battalion, and later the Haganah, the military precursor to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
Sharon was a commander in the Israeli Army from its inception in 1948. As a paratrooper and then an officer, he participated prominently in the 1948 War of Independence, becoming a platoon commander in the Alexandroni Brigade and participating in many battles. He was an instrumental figure in the creation of Unit 101 – a Special Forces unit, the Retribution Operations, the 1956 Suez War, 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.
During his military career, he was considered the greatest field commander in Israel’s history, and one of the country’s greatest ever military strategists. His career was characterized by insubordination, aggression and disobedience, but also brilliance as a commander. After his assault of the Sinai in the Six-Day War and his encirclement of the Egyptian Third Army in the Yom Kippur War, the Israeli public nicknamed him “The King of Israel” and “The Lion of G-d”.
After retiring from the army, Sharon joined the Likud party, 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.
In 1983 the commission established by the Israeli Government found that as Minister of Defense during the 1982 Lebanon War Sharon bore “personal responsibility” for the massacre by Lebanese militias of Palestinian civilians in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila, for his having disregarded the prospect of acts of bloodshed by the Phalangists against the population of the refugee camps, and not having prevented their entry. The Kahan Commission recommended Sharon’s removal as Defense Minister, and Sharon did resign after initially refusing to do so. After his dismissal from the Defense Ministry post, Sharon remained in successive governments as a Minister without Portfolio (1983–1984), Minister of Trade and Industry (1984–1990), and Minister of Housing Construction (1990–1992), Minister of National Infrastructure (1996–98), and Foreign Minister (1998–99). Sharon was elected Prime Minister in February 2001.
In the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, Sharon championed construction of Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip. However, In May 2003, Sharon endorsed the Road Map for Peace put forth by the United States, European Union, and Russia. In 2004 – 05 Sharon orchestrated Israel’s unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip. Sharon’s plan was welcomed by both the Palestinian Authority and Israel’s left wing. However, it was greeted with opposition from within his own Likud party and from other right wing Israelis, on national security, military, and religious grounds. Between August 2005 16th – 30th, Sharon controversially expelled 9,480 Israelis from 21 communities in Gaza and four communities in Samaria.
Facing stiff opposite to this policy within the Likud, in November 2005 he left Likud to form the new Kadima party, dissolved parliament and went for elections. His stroke occurred a few months before the upcoming elections.
On 18 December 2005, Sharon suffered a mild stroke and was rushed to the hospital. Sharon reportedly wanted to leave the hospital the evening after his arrival but the hospital wanted him to stay another day. He was released from the hospital two days later. On 4 January 2006, in the evening before his catheterization, Sharon suffered a second, far more serious stroke. He has been in permanent vegetative state since. About a month ago doctors announced that his situation deteriorated seriously, and today he finally succumbed to his illness.
He is to be buried at Givat Hakalanot, on the family farm, beside his wife Lilly.
By Aryeh Savir | Tazpit News Agency