Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
FILE - In this Wednesday Feb. 7, 2001 file photo, Ariel Sharon, then Israel's Prime Minister-elect, looks up as he touches Judaism holiest site, the Western Wall, in Jerusalem. The son of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says his father has died on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014. The 85-year-old Sharon had been in a coma since a debilitating stroke eight years ago. His son Gilad Sharon said: "He has gone. He went when he decided to go." (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder, File)
‘Warrior’ polarized the Mideast
Israel » As prime minister, he pulled out of Gaza, built barrier between Israel, West Bank.
First Published Jan 11 2014 07:44 pm • Last Updated Mar 24 2014 11:33 pm

Jerusalem • It was vintage Ariel Sharon: His hefty body bobbing behind a wall of security men, the ex-general led a march onto a Jerusalem holy site, staking a bold claim to a shrine that has been in contention from the dawn of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

What followed was a Palestinian uprising that put Mideast peace efforts into deep-freeze.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Five years later, Sharon, who died Saturday at 85, was again barreling headlong into controversy, bulldozing ahead with his plan to pull Israel out of the Gaza Strip and uproot all 8,500 Jewish settlers living there without regard to threats to his life from Jewish extremists.

The withdrawal and the barrier he was building between Israel and the West Bank permanently changed the face of the conflict and marked the final legacy of a man who shaped Israel as much as any other leader. He was a farmer-turned-soldier, a soldier-turned-politician, a politician-turned-statesman — a hard-charging Israeli who built Jewish settlements on war-won land but didn’t shy away from destroying them when he deemed them no longer useful.

Sharon died eight years after a debilitating stroke put him into a coma. His body was to lie in state at the parliament on Sunday before he is laid to rest at his ranch in southern Israel on Monday, Israeli media reported. Vice President Joe Biden will lead the U.S. delegation.

Sharon suffered his stroke in January 2006 and fell into a coma. During the past week and a half, doctors reported a sharp decline in his condition as bodily organs, including his kidneys, failed. On Saturday, Dr. Shlomo Noy of the Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv said "his heart weakened and he peacefully departed" with relatives by his bedside.

His death was greeted with the same strong feelings he evoked in life. Israelis called him a war hero. His enemies called him a war criminal.

President Barack Obama remembered Sharon as "a leader who dedicated his life to the state of Israel." Former President George W. Bush, who was in the White House during Sharon’s tenure, called him a "warrior for the ages and a partner in seeking security for the Holy Land and a better, peaceful Middle East."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a rival and harsh critic of Sharon, said: "His memory will be enshrined forever in the heart of the nation." President Shimon Peres, a longtime friend and rival, said: "He was an outstanding man and an exceptional commander who moved his people and loved them and the people loved him."

The Palestinians, who loathed Sharon as their most bitter enemy, distributed candy, prayed for divine punishment and said they regretted he was never held accountable for his actions, including a massacre in the Lebanese refugee camps of Sabra and Chatilla by Christian militiamen allied with Israel during the 1982 invasion, which was largely his brainchild.


story continues below
story continues below

"He wanted to erase the Palestinian people from the map ... He wanted to kill us, but at the end of the day, Sharon is dead and the Palestinian people are alive," said Tawfik Tirawi, who served as Palestinian intelligence chief when Sharon was prime minister.

The man Israel knew by his nickname "Arik" fought in most of Israel’s wars. He detested Yasser Arafat, his lifelong adversary, as an "obstacle to peace" and was in turn detested in the Arab world.

Sharon had a life of surprises, none bigger than his election as prime minister in his twilight years, when he spent his first term crushing a Palestinian uprising and his second withdrawing from Gaza. The pullout in 2005 freed 1.3 million Palestinians from Israeli military rule and left his successors with the outline of his proposal for a peace settlement with Israel’s Arab foes.

Sharon opted for separating Israel from the Palestinians, whose birthrate was outpacing that of his own country. He gave up Gaza, with its 21 Jewish settlements, and four West Bank settlements, the first such Israeli pullback since it captured the territories in the 1967 Mideast war.

He also began building a snaking barrier of fences, walls, razor wire and trenches to separate Israel from the West Bank.

Sharon was born to Russian immigrant parents on Feb. 26, 1928, in the farming community of Kfar Malal, 10 miles north of Tel Aviv.

Sharon received praise for his command of an armored division during the 1967 Mideast War, in which Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula.

In 1982 he engineered the invasion of Lebanon. That September, the Israeli military, allowed members of the Phalanges, a Lebanese Christian militia allied with Israel, to enter the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Chatilla. The militiamen systematically slaughtered hundreds of civilians, including women and children. The massacres sparked mass protests in Israel and abroad.He was fired as defense minister.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.