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Old 11-01-14, 14:35   #1
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Default Former Israeli PM Ariel Sharon Has Died

Former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon has died aged 85 after spending eight years in a coma

  • The former leader is one of Israel's most iconic and controversial figures
  • He went into a coma following a devastating stroke in January 2006
  • His son Gilan told reporters that 'he had gone when he decided to'
  • Press conference at the Sheba Medical centre, near Tel Aviv, said he 'departed peacefully with his family at his side'
By Daily Mail UK, 11 January 2014

Ariel Sharon passed away today aged 85 after suffering multiple organ collapse.

The 85-year-old had been in a coma since having a devastating stroke in January 2006 while still in office. Israeli Army Radio announced the death, and his son Gilad later confirmed to reporters: 'He has gone. He went when he decided to go.'
At a press conference this afternoon, Professor Shlomo Noy of the Sheba Medical centre said he 'departed peacefully with his family at his side'.

Iconic: This picture taken on November 16, 2005 shows former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon addressing a press conference in Jerusalem

Friendship: Ariel Sharon and Tony Blair shake hands at a joint news conference in Jerusalem in December 2004

He said: 'Mr Sharon was treated for over 7 years in the medical centre rehbialition centre. Throughout this period he was considered to be in a state of minimal consciousness.'
'The former prime minister overcame many medical complications. Over the past week he struggled with surprising strength and determination against the deterioration in his condition.
'Today he departed peacefully with his loving family at his side.

'This is the time and place to thank the medical centre staff which cared with Mr Sharon with the professionalism, patience and compassion which he surely deserved. May his memory be a blessing.'
From the Israeli government, strategic affairs minister Yuval Steinitz issued a statement saying: 'The nation of Israel has today lost a dear man, a great leader and a bold warrior.

Known as The Bulldozer for his hardline approach, Sharon’s career has stretched across Israel’s 65-year history.
One of Israel's most famous generals, Sharon left his mark on the region through military invasion, Jewish settlement building on captured land and a shock, unilateral decision to pull Israeli troops and settlers out of the Gaza Strip in 2005.

In 1983, an Israeli state inquiry found Sharon, then the defence minister, indirectly responsible for the killing of hundreds of Palestinian men, women and children at Beirut's Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. He was forced to resign his post.

The slaughter took place after the Israeli army, which invaded Lebanon in 1982, allowed Israeli-backed Christian Phalangist militiamen to enter the camps, ostensibly to search for Palestinian gunmen.

Ariel Sharon and former U.S. President George W. Bush holding a joint news conference at Bush's Central Texas ranch in Crawford, 2005

Ariel Sharon taking a ride on a mini-tractor on his ranch in southern Israel with his wife Lily and one of his grandchildren

‘He'll be remembered as the last of his generation of Israeli fighters and founders,’ Dedi Cohen, a 38-year-old lawyer, told Reuters in Tel Aviv.

‘He was a bulldozer who got things done. I know he was controversial, but he had values. He stood for something. That's missing today,’ Cohen said.

Raanan Gissin, a former senior aide to Sharon, said: ‘It's a very sad moment ... for people in Israel because Ariel Sharon was an icon in Israel.’

Sharon's devastating illness began shortly after he quit the right-wing Likud party, where he had promoted Jewish settlement in territory captured in the 1967 Middle East war, and founded a centrist faction with the declared aim of advancing peace with his long-standing foe, the Palestinians.

Battling a Palestinian uprising that began in 2000 after peace talks collapsed, Sharon initiated the building of a contentious barrier across the occupied West Bank and presented a plan to ‘disengage’ from the Gaza Strip.

Sharon receiving a baggage car ride at Heathrow on his first visit to England

Sharon (2nd left) sitting in a jeep during a tour on October 1973


1928 - born in British Palestine
1942 - signs up to Gadna youth battalion
1956 - brigade commander in 1956 Suez War
1969 - made head of IDF's Southern Command
1973 - turns tide of Middle East War
1973 - joins centre-right Likud party
1981 - becomes Minister of Defense
1982 - directs Lebanon War
1998 - becomes Minister of Foreign Affairs
2001 - becomes 11th prime minister
2006 - suffers a severe stroke

‘As a prime minister he took a very brave step in leaving the (Gaza) settlements. He did something unexpected that was very surprising for a right-wing prime minister, for the better,’ said Anat Harel, 25, a computer science student in the southern town of Ashkelon.

Critics of Sharon's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza point to the territory's seizure two years later by Hamas Islamists opposed to Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and repeated rocket fire from the enclave.

‘We worked together but it is no secret that our ways parted at the moment he started talking about the (Gaza) disengagement,’ Yuli Edelstein, the Speaker of the Israeli Parliament, said on Israel Radio.

‘But even these things do not cancel out his military past, his contribution to the country, or my memories of him.’

In the Gaza Strip, a Hamas leader spoke bitterly of a man the movement sees as one of the Palestinians' worst enemies.

‘Ariel Sharon is going the same direction as other tyrants and criminals whose hands were covered in Palestinian blood,’ said the leader, Khalil al-Hayya.
Sharon was born to parents Shmuel and Dvora Scheineman, both Belarusian Jews, on February 26, 1928, in Kfar Malal, at the time in British Palestine.
His sister, Yehudit, had been born two years earlier.
Sharon quickly developed a taste for military life and aged just 14 he signed up to the Gadna, a paramilitary youth battalion. Later he enrolled in what would become the Israel Defense Forces - the Haganah, back then an underground paramilitary organisation.

Then Foreign Minister Sharon (centre) in the government of Israeli prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (behind, right) and he comes close to former Palestinian President Yasser Arafat (left) as former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright (right) watches the close encounter during Israeli - Palestinian negotiations in Washington DC

In the Battle for Jerusalem and 1948 War of Independence he proved his mettle as a hardened soldier, quickly rising to the rank of platoon commander.
In Warrior: The Autobiography of Ariel Sharon, he wrote of battles so numerous 'that they all seemed to run together'.
He also played a key part in the 1956 Suez War as a Paratroopers Brigade commander, was an infantry brigade commander in the Six-Day War of 1967 and by 1969 was considered such a brilliant tactician that he was annointed as the Head of the IDF's Southern Command.
He is credited with helping to turn the tide of the 1973 Middle East war when Arab armies launched a surprise attack on Israel, leading troops across the Suez Canal and trapping part of the Egyptian army.

Sharon, as Israeli Prime Minister, on the outskirts of Mevessert Zion, west of Jerusalem as he speaks with army personnel, unseen, while overlooking part of Israel's separation barrier being constructed near the West Bank villages of Beit Surik and Beit Iksa

His political career began to flourish in the 1970s after he'd joined the centre-right Likud party and he became special aide to prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1975.
He was given the prestigious post of Minster of Defense in 1981 and directed the 1982 Lebanon War.
He would later become Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Energy and Water Resources, Minister of Housing and Construction, Minister of Industry, Trade and Labour and eventually the 11th Israeli prime minister, in March 2001.

Sharon married twice. He met his first wife, Margalit, in 1947 when she was 16. They had one son, called Gur. Margalit was killed in a road accident in 1962.
His second wife, Lily, was Margalit's sister. They married in 1963 and had two sons, Omri and Gilad.
Lily died of lung cancer in 2000.


'The only one left is Sharon.' 2005 - Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, saying Sharon was the only Israeli leader who could deliver peace with the Palestinians.

'A man of enormous courage... a wonderful, historic leader.' - former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, after Sharon's 2006 stroke.

'The first Israeli leader who stopped claiming Israel had a right to all of the Palestinians' land.' - Palestinian commentator Ghazi al-Saadi, when Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip.

'The job of prime minister... changed him, not just ideologically but also in terms of his personality. He was a fighting, quarrelsome man and suddenly he imposed on himself a great deal of restraint, personal control and calm.' - Yossi Sarid, leader of Israel's Meretz Party.

'It is impossible to justify the minister of defence's disregard of the danger of a massacre.' - Israeli commission that found Sharon, defence minister at the time, indirectly responsible for a massacre

'It was a stigmatisation I rejected utterly.' - Sharon in his autobiography, expressing outrage at commission's findings.

'It is not just Sabra and Chatilla. He committed so many crimes against Arabs everywhere... He is truly a butcher.' - Adnan al-Mikdad, a Lebanese man who lost both his parents in the massacre.

'Everyone there should move, should run, should grab more hills, expand the territory. Everything that's grabbed will be in our hands, everything that we don't grab will be in their hands.' - Sharon, as foreign minister in 1998, calling on Jewish settlers to take over as much West Bank land as possible

'If in a few months the Palestinians still continue to disregard their part in implementing the road map, then Israel will initiate the unilateral security step of disengagement from the Palestinians.' - Sharon, in a December 18, 2003, speech as prime minister, outlining plan to separate Israelis and Palestinians to stop attacks and to give up settlements in Gaza and parts of West Bank.

'He leaves behind great political chaos of the kind that I don't remember in the history of the country of Israel.' - Sharon biographer Uzi Benziman commenting on plan to withdraw from Gaza Strip.

'He was one of a kind. I don't know any other man like him.' - the late Joseph Lapid, head of Shinui Party

'He never thought he would bring final peace, but he certainly thought he would take the steps that would eventually lead to it.' - Arnon Perlman, Sharon adviser until 2004.
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