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However, Sharon had no malice in his heart. At times his overzealousness obscured his better judgment about what was right and what was clearly wrong. He came to be known as the father of the settlements and the architect of building a barrier of fences and walls to separate Israel from the West Bank. However, in , he withdrew all Israeli settlers and military personnel from Gaza with the intention of later withdrawing from much of the West Bank.

He was a warrior both in his military and political life. He pursued his goals with zeal by chasing terrorists across enemy lines and changing political course.

The world reacts to Ariel Sharon's death

Sharon exuded unmatched leadership qualities both as a soldier and political leader. As a soldier Sharon showed great courage and commitment to the army. During the course of his military carrier, Sharon played an active role, in many instances helping the Israelis to win. In , during the Six Day War, Sharon demonstrated his leadership as a solider by leading his unit to a victory in the Sinai.

As a politician, he never hesitated to make the most sensitive political decisions, even changing course and seeking a two-state solution, despite the objections of many in his cabinet, including current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at the time his finance minister.

~ Also by Benjamin Kerstein ~

He always stuck to the motto that a commitment to achieve anything requires courage, especially when it appears that all odds are against you. Once he decided to move forward with the Gaza withdrawal, he acted accordingly. He did not the threats of extremist settlers dissuade him. Sharon, who suffered several failures, understood that true statesmanship is not only a product of successive successes but also the lessons learned from past mistakes. Realizing that occupation was not sustainable, Sharon had little compunctions to propose a final peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Sharon demonstrated at the start of his career that he was a superb military strategist.

He will be remembered in the military annals as one of the greatest. Sharon portrayed it as a limited campaign to root out Palestinian terrorists in southern Lebanon.

Sharon even reached the outskirts of Beirut, which many Israelis saw as a bold and daring military move that could lead, to the establishment of a pro-Israel regime in Lebanon. To Palestinians, the unilateral disengagement was less about peace than it was about ridding Israel of "the security threat and the demographic threat Sharon saw in Gaza," Ashrawi said.

The wisdom of his disengagement policy has proved unclear, as demonstrated by Israel's periodic skirmishes with Hamas-backed militants in Gaza and ongoing tensions with Lebanon, from which Israel withdrew in Born to Russian immigrant parents in a farming community near Tel Aviv in , Sharon joined the Jewish underground militia Haganah at age 14 to fight for Israeli independence from British rule.

He fought in the Arab-Israeli war of and quickly rose to prominence in the new nation's military ranks. Sharon's career would turn out to be marked by a series of stunning highs and desperate lows that made him a figure many Israelis either adored or despised. Perhaps his greatest military feat came in , when he led a thrust across the Suez Canal that helped turn the tide of the war in the Middle East.

Death and funeral of Ariel Sharon - Wikipedia

The assault cut off Egypt's Third Army. It also helped forge Sharon's reputation as a war hero after his head was grazed by a bullet during fierce fighting. Throughout his career, Sharon accumulated as many accolades for his heroics as controversies for his no-holds-barred leadership.


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In , he headed up Unit , an Israeli military force charged with carrying out reprisals for the slayings of an Israeli woman and her two children by Palestinian militants. His troops blew up more than 40 houses in a West Bank village, killing 69 Arabs, about half of them women and children. Sharon would contend later that he thought the homes were empty. In , he was rebuked by his superiors after sending troops on what his commanders later termed an unnecessary and unplanned battle with Egyptian forces on the Sinai Peninsula.

In , while serving as defense minister, Sharon masterminded Israel's invasion of Lebanon. Touted as a lightning strike to drive Palestinian militants from Israel's northern border, the operation lasted 18 years. The Lebanon invasion was marked by the massacre of hundreds of Palestinians in two Beirut refugee camps by Israeli-allied Lebanese Christian militiamen.

Ariel Sharon

Sharon denied being at fault for the action, which sullied his name with many Arab leaders, including then-Palestinian Authority chairman Arafat, who was ousted from Lebanon as a result of Israel's invasion. Prime Minister Menachem Begin forced Sharon to resign after an Israeli tribunal found him indirectly responsible for the killings — a rebuke that would have ended most political careers. Sharon slowly, methodically rehabilitated himself.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Dies at 85

He rejoined the Israeli Cabinet in the early s as housing minister and oversaw the building of dozens of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. The presence of the settlements in the occupied territories was an issue that became a central dispute in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

In , Netanyahu made Sharon foreign minister. The appointment led to Sharon's election as leader of the conservative Likud Party after Netanyahu's defeat in the general election in After the collapse of the Camp David peace talks with Palestinians in , Sharon led an effort to unseat Prime Minister Ehud Barak by charging that Barak had been ready to trade full Israeli control of Jerusalem for a peace deal with Palestinian leaders, who wanted to make East Jerusalem the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Sharon's visit with hundreds of Israeli riot police to the al-Aqsa mosque compound in East Jerusalem — also known as the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism — was condemned by opponents who said he was prompting anger among Palestinians.

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But he said it was only right to assert his commitment to Israeli sovereignty over the site. In the election that followed, Sharon enjoyed a landslide victory — at the age of 73 — having campaigned on a promise to keep Jerusalem united and bring Israel "security and true peace. Sharon's years as prime minister exhibited the dual, sometimes conflicting impulses of his long career.

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In his first term in office, he spent much of his time trying to crush the Palestinian uprising. In , he began construction of a security fence separating Israel and the West Bank. The fence eventually ended the regular transit of terrorists that were attacking Israel say supporters.