Former Israeli PM Ariel Sharon Dies after 8 years in a coma
Sharon was an Israeli statesman and retired general, who served as Israel’s 11th Prime Minister.
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 taking part in many battles, including Operation Ben Nun Alef.
He was an instrumental figure in the creation of Unit 101, and the Retribution 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.
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.
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 God”.
To many Israelis, Sharon was a heroic warrior, having led decisive campaigns in the 1967 and 1973 wars.
But to many Palestinians he was The Butcher, who laid siege to Beirut and was responsible for the deaths of thousands of civilians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon in 1982.
“No-one can lecture me about the need for peace,” he once said. “I am the one who was in those battles. Therefore I am the person who can prevent war.”
And it is true that Sharon had fought in all of Israel’s five wars.
Late in his career, Sharon pushed through disengagement from Gaza against strong opposition in Israel and from the party he led.
In December 2005, Sharon suffered a mild stroke.
A second major stroke in January 2006 sent Sharon into a coma from which he never awoke.