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Ariel Sharon dead at 85
Published Saturday 11/01/2014 (updated) 20/01/2014 11:10
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(Jim Hollander/EPA)

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon died Saturday after eight years in a coma, leaving behind a bloody and conflicted legacy in the land he called home.

Nicknamed "the Bulldozer," Sharon is remembered by Palestinians and many other Arabs for his involvement in and leadership over massacres in several countries and his role in repressing the Palestinian national movement over the course of decades.

Many Israelis, meanwhile, remember him as a strong but controversial statesman who led the country with an iron fist through uncertain times.

Sharon's iron fist sometimes proved too extreme even for the Israeli military. Throughout his career, Sharon was reprimanded for ruthlessness in dealing with Palestinian and other Arab civilians.

Although he was occasionally punished by superiors, he consistently managed to return to leadership positions in the Israeli armed forces.

A supporter of the Israeli settlement movement of Palestinian lands, Sharon presided over the unprecedented expansion of Jewish colonies in the territories occupied by Israel in 1967.

While many Israelis remember him for the domestically controversial decision to pull 8,500 settlers out of the Gaza Strip in 2005, Palestinians remember that he was a key architect of the movement that brought 500,000 Jewish colonists to settle the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

In 2000, he toured the Al-Aqsa compound in East Jerusalem and set off a Palestinian national uprising.

There are few figures in the region today who inspires as much passion and anger as Sharon.

Israeli Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan and Ariel Sharon during the 1973 war

A troubled youth

Born in 1928 to Belarussian parents on a Jewish collective settlement in the British Mandate of Palestine, Sharon joined a Zionist militia in the 1940s to take part in the movement to create a Jewish state.

Sharon participated in military campaigns led by the Haganah, which famously devised Plan Dalet, a template for the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians from their homes in order to create a Jewish majority in what was to become Israel.

Following independence, Sharon joined the infamous Unit 101 of the Israeli armed forces, where he led covert cross-border operations against civilian and military targets in the Jordanian-occupied West Bank.

In October 1953, Sharon led a squad on a raid into the village of Qibya, blowing up houses and throwing grenades at random into residential neighborhoods. The raid, which would come to be called the Qibya Massacre, killed 69 civilians, two-thirds of them women and children, and provoked international outrage.

Sharon's military legacy in the years following were also mired in controversy, as his conduct in the Suez Canal war was seen by superiors as unnecessarily aggressive.

Following a major victory against Egyptian forces in 1967, however, Sharon was appointed head of the Southern Command for the Israeli military in 1969.

Sharon the politician

By the early 1970s, however, he fell into more trouble with superiors and was subsequently relieved of duty.

Sharon then moved into politics, and he became a major force behind the establishment of the right-wing Likud party. He was an early advocate of the movement that advocated Jewish colonization of the territories captured in 1967.

From the beginning of the settlement movement, he promoted efforts to take over Arab-owned lands and give them to Jews, with the intent of preventing Arabs who had fled from returning.

After success in the 1981 elections, Sharon was appointed minister of defense, a role that would earn him international notoriety as he presided over the bloody Israeli invasion of Lebanon.

The invasion, which came in response to PLO attacks from southern Lebanon onto Israeli territory, killed around 20,000 Lebanese and Palestinians, and was brutal even by the standards of the ongoing civil war.

In the most notorious episode of Sharon's career, he presided over and facilitated the massacre of around 3,500 unarmed Palestinian civilians in Sabra and Shatila in southern Beirut by Israeli-supported Lebanese Phalangist militias.

Israeli forces who controlled the area surrounded the camp and lit flares during the night to help militants navigate alleyways as they slaughtered residents.

The Kahan Commission, an Israeli government body set up to ascertain whether or not its armed forces bore responsibility for the massacre, charged in 1982 that Sharon indirectly bore "personal responsibility" for "ignoring the danger of bloodshed and revenge" and "not taking appropriate measures to prevent bloodshed."

The brutality of the invasion of Lebanon united previously divided Lebanese factions against Israel and led to the creation of the Lebanese political party and militant group Hezbollah, which would go on to challenge Israeli supremacy in the region.

Israeli forces eventually withdrew from most of Lebanon but occupied the south of the country until 2000, when they pulled out after years of Hezbollah-led resistance.

Then-Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin listens as Ariel Sharon points during a visit to the West Bank settlement of Alon Moreh, Feb. 27, 1981. (Herman Chanania/Government Press Office)

Settlements and Intifada

Due to public pressure in the wake of the massacre, Sharon lost his position as defense minister but remained in the Israeli cabinet, focusing primarily on the settlement movement and domestic issues in the 1980s and 1990s.

Sharon was a principle architect of the settlement movement, using his positions as minister of housing and national infrastructure among others to facilitate the construction of a vast apparatus of illegal settlements on occupied lands in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights in Syria.

In 1998, Sharon told a meeting of the right-wing Tzomet party that "Everybody has to move, run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge the settlements because everything we take now will stay ours. ... Everything we don't grab will go to them."

In other posts, he worked to incorporate Jewish settlements into instruments of national planning, normalizing their status as integral parts of Israel despite their illegality under international law.

In September 2000, amid rising anger in the Palestinian territories over continuing settlement construction and the breakdown of peace talks, Sharon toured the Al-Aqsa compound in occupied East Jerusalem accompanied by 1,000 security forces.

The site is holy to both Muslims and Jews, and years of Israeli construction around the site -- including the demolition of a Palestinian neighborhood, the Maghrebi Quarter, in 1967 -- make it an important symbol for Palestinians.

The visit led to mass protests, while violent Israeli repressions of these protests fueled into widespread public anger at Israel's failure to abide by its responsibilities according to the peace talks and end the occupation.

The days that followed marked a major escalation of the Palestinian national resistance against Israel, and unleashed waves of fury and violence against both the Israeli military and civilians that became known as the Second Intifada.

He emerged as Israel's prime minister in February 2001 and would oversee the brutal response to the intifada that left thousands of Palestinians dead. At the same time, hundreds of Israelis died in the waves of Palestinian militant bombings that hit Israeli cities.

Sharon remained defiant despite the bloodshed. In March 2001, in response to a US-led fact-finding commission on the beginning of the violence, he told public radio that "Israel may have the right to put others on trial, but certainly no one has the right to put the Jewish people and the State of Israel on trial."

Israeli security officials guard then-opposition leader Ariel Sharon, center, as he leaves the Al-Aqsa compound, in September 2000. (Eyal Warshavsky/Associated Press)

'The Butcher of Beirut'

Toward the end of his life, Sharon began to support limited pull-outs from the occupied territories.

In 2005, he campaigned for and later implemented a withdrawal of all settlements in the Gaza Strip as well as four in the West Bank, angering the settler movement and acquiring a reputation as a man of peace abroad.

But for the Palestinians, the last-minute act -- which Sharon himself argued was strategic, and not a peace offering -- did little to salvage the reputation of a man who was known popularly as the "Butcher of Beirut."

On Jan. 4, 2006, Sharon suffered a massive hemorrhagic stroke, putting him into a coma that would last more than eight years.

During that time, Israeli leaders have continued settlement expansion across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The Gaza Strip, meanwhile, has been under Israeli siege since 2006. Israeli military control over its borders, trade, airspace, and water mean that it is an occupied territory by international standards.

Nearly 10 years after Sharon disappeared from public life, his legacy lives on. "The Bulldozer" has been more successful in laying the groundwork for Israeli occupation and control than he could have possibly imagined.
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1 ) mohamed / somalia
11/01/2014 14:57
thank you lord for your justice.

2 ) Moe moe / usa
11/01/2014 15:26
Does anybody rejoice in Death? IS enough reason to do so? Yes there is. Is there anyone who would not rejoice. In the. Of the killer of old men,women and children?No, I do not think so, because loosing. Your beloved things in your life, the closest to your heart is the most painful to human being and even to animals.So, to all the victims of Palestine, let join and rejoice, for the death of this criminal thug.

3 ) Paul / kenya
11/01/2014 15:27
Rest in peace, we will miss you. GOD bless.

4 ) Palmina / ES
11/01/2014 15:43
good news also for all its victims,this war criminal and for genocide responsible,Unfortunately,he had been allowed to live too long compared to the many children he had murdered.

5 ) Sarah / The Netherlands
11/01/2014 15:44
B-B-B (Bye Bye Butcher) Go to hell.

6 ) Marcus / New Zealand
11/01/2014 15:48
Rest in peace Arik, we will all miss you.

7 ) Foremidable LEADER / His soldiers went
11/01/2014 16:51
after him bindly not too many such leaders in world history. also controversial! (his removal of GUSH KATIF IS HATED BY MANY ISRAELIS)

8 ) Oh Saraleh from Holland / You are such
11/01/2014 17:03
a kindered spirit we love you too!

9 ) Carol Scheller / Switzerland
11/01/2014 17:19
One person's memory of this man : http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/david-cronin/immense-cruelty-ariel-sharon#comments

10 ) JoeUSA / USA
11/01/2014 17:56
No place in heaven or hell....Zombie land is even too god for this monster.

11 ) jesse / usa
11/01/2014 18:01
love him or hate him, he was a great leader who took his nation and the country he loved to bigger and better things. ( in a way like arafat). so you all may like him or hate him, but in the end he fought, hard for what he believed in, and was ready to make peace in the end.

12 ) Ghassan / Palestine
11/01/2014 18:19
Sharon was a war criminal like all Nazi-Zionists. His name must be added to black list of war criminals

13 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
11/01/2014 18:24
Who is responsible for more death? Sharon or Yasser Arafat?

14 ) Jooto / UK
11/01/2014 18:38
A brave warrior, and a bold politician who unilaterally withdrew Israeli settlers from Gaza.

15 ) Zahrah / Finland
11/01/2014 18:47
Thank to God about this good news! The Butcher has died but butchering innocents in Palestine continues every day.

16 ) Christian Palestinian / USA
11/01/2014 19:32
As a Christian, I will not say anything against a dead man except that he will be judged for his many crimes committed against the Arab people.

17 ) Shlomo / Paris
11/01/2014 19:38
To Brian Cohen ....................... give me the numbers !!!!!!!!!!!!!

18 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
11/01/2014 20:19
Mine was a rhetorical question. Arafat was a bigger butcher of innocents. Arafat is remembered for what he excelled at: hijacking and blowing up planes (with passengers in them), attacking Israeli schools and killing as many kids as possible, blowing up buses, restaurants, malls, markets, and generally trying to kill and maim as many civilians as possible. That is what Arafat's legacy is - the man who convinced the world that Palestinans can legally commit war crimes and get away with it.

19 ) Charlie / Argentina
11/01/2014 20:32
"the most absurd thing ever said about Ariel Sharon was that he was a man of peace..(Israeli disengagement from Gaza)...allowed Sharon to get the Israeli settlers in Gaza out of his way, close Gaza like a prison...to further suffocate the people of Gaza, people that he was determined to destroy from early on in his violent career...we must all remember his victims, the countless dead, wounded and displaced and remind the world that this man was not a hero but a criminal." Miko Peled, Israeli.

20 ) Susanne / South Africa
11/01/2014 20:42
@15 ''but butchering innocents in Palestine continues every day.'' Yup, the Arabs in Syria have killed more and more last year, and in 2012.

21 ) Ann / Us
11/01/2014 20:51
This man stood for something. War and killing has been going on since the beginning of time and civilizations. Many have lost family members and it is tragic. There is a price to pay in war and a price to pay in peace. This man stood for his country and for the people and didn't fall for anything. He was a great leader and with leadership comes good and bad. May he and his family be comforted may they feel the love and thankfulness that we should all have for those that have gone before us.

22 ) Philimon / Africa
11/01/2014 21:14
He was a great warrior and greatly admired by millions. May there rise a thousand new Sharons.

23 ) Iris Brito Stevens / USA
11/01/2014 21:15
Thank you Alex for an excellent article.

24 ) Maureen / Australia
11/01/2014 21:47
How much money has it cost the Israeli tax payers to keep him alive this past 8 years... he loved "pastrami sandwiches." May he spend eternity sitting at a table laden with "pastrami sandwiches" with arms too long to reach his mouth.

25 ) Colin Wright / USA
11/01/2014 21:48
Ding dong the witch is dead.

26 ) Colin Wright / USA
11/01/2014 21:52
To Brian Cohen #18: 'Mine was a rhetorical question. Arafat was a bigger butcher of innocents...' This is unlikely, Brain. As a puppy, Sharon led terror raids into Jordan which were noted for their indiscriminate ferocity. He went on to arrange the butchery of Sabra and Chantila, in which thousands were murdered after promises of safety. He was witnessed to have personally shot two toddlers -- just for the pleasure of it, apparently. Even by Israeli standards, Sharon was an a real monster.

27 ) Colin Wright / USA
11/01/2014 22:01
Re Paul, Jesse, Brian, Jooto, Marcus, et al, et al. The Zionists condemn themselves by whom they praise.

28 ) Jootoo / UK
11/01/2014 22:18
@27 had he lived in good health, Sharon may also have led the withdrawal from Judea and Samaria too.

29 ) JoeUSA / USA
11/01/2014 22:24
We , do not gloat on this man's demise ( monster that he is) , but we revel in the fact that he can no longer , and for ever , hurt any other human being , ever again....

30 ) Yevgeny / Israel
11/01/2014 22:41
He was a great leader. Arabs where shaking only hearing his name. Arik, the king of Israel! RIP

31 ) Julie / USA
11/01/2014 22:43
Ariel Sharon in an interview with General Ouze Merham, 1956: "I don't know something called International Principles. I vow that I'll burn every Palestinian child (that) will be born in this area. The Palestinian woman and child is more dangerous than the man, because the Palestinian childs existence infers that generations will go on, but the man causes limited danger." This brutal monster belongs in the bowels of hell, period.

32 ) Karma / Universe
11/01/2014 22:51
The earth didn't want him and the Lord wouldn't take him, only Hell awaits this child murdering monster!

33 ) george / USA
11/01/2014 23:05
Finaly, He meets his Maker and He will be judged for shedding inoncent Blood of Jews and Arabs.

34 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
11/01/2014 23:29
Aw cmon Colin. You think Sharon was worse than Arafat? Just look at the successful track record of the PLO: thousands dead in Jordan. Thousands dead in Lebanon. Thousands dead in Israel. Crikey - the PLO has notched up almost 2000 dead alone by ex-judicial executions of "suspected collaborators" - an Arafat-ism used by Fatah guys to knock off anybody they didn't like. No...when it comes to body counts and sheer brutality Arafat wins hands down.

35 ) Loretta / Hungary
11/01/2014 23:37
@31 it is easy to see how this nonsense has gained credence. Indeed, the attribution of invidious statements to Israel’s leaders has become a popular stratagem among Israel’s enemies. Many are fabricated, taken out of context or otherwise manipulated to present a distorted, negative view of Zionist intentions and actions. Propagated on the internet, some of these misquotes eventually make their way into opinion columns in campus newspapers and even, on occasion, the mainstream press.

36 ) Colin Wright / USA
11/01/2014 23:39
To Yevgeny #31: 'He was a great leader. Arabs where shaking only hearing his name. Arik, the king of Israel! RIP' I imagine there were Einsatzgruppen leaders whose names made the Jews of the shetls shake. It's not grounds for praise.

37 ) Billy Monrow / Canada
11/01/2014 23:41
#31 This quote was found on hundreds of Arab Web sites, and indeed, seems to be a a staple of anti-Israel propaganda. It cannot be found, however, in any text book, news article, or published record, nor is there any mention or record of a General Ouze Merham anywhere else. (Another giveaway is that the term “Palestinian” was not in use in 1956. It only came into vogue in the 1960's.)

38 ) paulo / Spain
11/01/2014 23:43
@31 have you ever tried googling ''Ouze Merham''?

39 ) Bob / USA
11/01/2014 23:47
#30 sharon was a bad person, something I know you support there in the stolen land you live in, for now.

40 ) Mel / USA
11/01/2014 23:52
Yeh,we'll miss him, like we'd miss a dose of the clap,or a dose of 'Brain Cohens',lol! Now watch carefully to see which 'dignitaries' turn up for his funerial circus. Roll out the Yamika's for the Zionist gentiles from CUFI too,who expect Jewish Zionists to convert(riiiiiiight).

41 ) Richard Reilly / USA
12/01/2014 00:04
Imeacht gan teacht ort (May you leave without returning) An old Irish curse.

42 ) Dirar / USA
12/01/2014 00:48
This is a monster who created a nation out of the murder and exile of another nation, he repeatedly went out into unchecked campaigns of murder and terror, there will be a special place in hell created just for this monster. It is hard to imagine a punishment greater than his sins against the Palestinian People, The Lebanese People or the world! He will not be forgotten and he will not be forgiven.

43 ) eddie / ireland
12/01/2014 02:18
i along with many many millions in Ireland know what this man was. unlike the USA UK Israel and many other countries we as a neutral country always had a more balanced press as regards what happens in Palestine and anyone informed on the matter would understand who this monster was. I wonder sometimes if paul pot was jewish how he would have been portrayed.and we can see the answer as in how Sharon is portrayed BURN IN HELL forever from the people of Ireland AND GOOD RIDDANCE

44 ) Colin Wright / USA
12/01/2014 02:32
Sharon embodied the Zionist virtues: he was unscrupulously dishonest, thoroughly enjoyed killing women and children, and did all he could to foment strife. See both his behavior in the massacres he orchestrated and his claims about them afterwards, and see his 2000 walkabout he used to kick off the Second Intifada. If Zionists find him an admirable figure, so much the worse for them.

45 ) Ben Alofs / UK/Netherlands
12/01/2014 04:04
As a survivor of "Sabra and Shatila" I had a personal interest in identifying who was responsible for this war crime. For sure it was Sharon. The plan to send the Phalangists into the camps was HIS, conceived long before the invasion. After Bashir Gemayel was assassinated and his militiamen were screaming for revenge he claimed in a press conference that the PLO was responsible, invaded West-Beirut, surrounded the camps and then personally gave the green light for "the friends' operation"!!!

46 ) Colin Wright / USA
12/01/2014 04:07
To Paul #3: 'Rest in peace, we will miss you. GOD bless.' For the sake of Sharon's soul, you should hope there isn't a God.

47 ) Colin Wright / USA
12/01/2014 04:10
To jootoo #28: '@27 had he lived in good health, Sharon may also have led the withdrawal from Judea and Samaria too.' Sure he would have. In fact, he might have said, 'OMG -- we don't have any right to be in Palestine at ALL! Come on, everyone -- line up at the airport.' Real likely. You only propose such a notion because he's safely dead.

48 ) Julie / USA
12/01/2014 04:13
Birth Certficate of Ariel Sharon says: Ariel Sharon AKA Ariel Scheinerman Born: 27-Sep-1928 Birthplace: Kfar Malal, PALESTINE hahahahaha!!! ariel sharon is PALESTINIAN

49 ) Robby / USA
12/01/2014 06:58
31 ) Julie / USA - Can you please point to a reputable source that says he really made that quote?

50 ) roman / usa
12/01/2014 07:15
I saw him in 2004, and his words I remember still: ... this land was ours, it is ours, and it always be ours!!

51 ) ian / australia
12/01/2014 08:40
Israelis love Ariel Sharon for his strength, resolve, ruthlessness and honesty. He's like their Nelson Mandela. A tireless patriot dedicated to the cause. But he's the consummate ISRAELI because he never acknowledged that his life's mission, the seizure of Palestine and the dispossession of the Palestinians, was quintessentially evil. And neither do they. The respect and affection displayed here ("He was a great warrior", "...a great leader. Arabs where shaking only hearing his name", "This man

52 ) ian / australia
12/01/2014 08:41
(contd.) stood for something", "A brave warrior", "...he fought hard for what he believed in", "Rest in peace, we will miss you. GOD bless" etc.) show that this uniquely Israeli willingness to accept evil is deeply ingrained and widespread.

53 ) Carol Scheller / Switzerland
12/01/2014 10:14
All you need to know : http://smpalestine.com/2014/01/11/submit-this-ariel-sharon-obituary-to-your-local-papers/

54 ) mohamed / somalia
12/01/2014 15:00
he left and the palestinian are there. what ever you call him brave or buldozer he is now under the ground and is facing justice inside the grave

55 ) Mohammed Wajid Ali / INDIA
12/01/2014 19:26
Death never misses anybody ... so , it was his time .. But , the most important thing is that you prepare yourself for answering in the grave....It is in our hands what we forward to ourselves.....May Allah (SWT) give him the highest punishment ...Ameen

56 ) Brandy / Usa2
12/01/2014 20:44
#40 - Mel: The news said it is to be a private funeral, so at least world leaders & premiers won't have to embarrass themselves, or make heart rending statements about what a great leader he was, and what a wonderful legacy he has left to the world. Best thing really, time moves on & time may in some part heal those affected by his actions.

57 ) IsraeliObserver / Israel
12/01/2014 22:09
Thanks to Sharon we: defeated terror in the 1950s, defeated Egypt, Syria and Jordan in the 1960s, have a peace treaty with Egypt in the 1970s, built up the settlements in the 1980s, successfully absorbed one million former Soviet Jews in the 1990s, rid ourselves of the Gaza hell hole in the new millennium. All due to this giant. There is an Arab saying: the dogs bark and the caravan moves on. Bark away.

58 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
13/01/2014 11:21
Colin and Ian - your leaders of yore were really war criminals, paving the way for your cushy occupation lifestyle today. What of the infamous Andrew Jackson's "Indian Removal Act"? Blatant land theft accompanying by ethnic cleansing and the outright murder of thousands of innocents? And Ian...from Risdon Cove and onwards how many innocent Aborigines were slaughtered in order for you to take over their lands today? Neither of you is making a two-state solution. What civilized boars you two are.

59 ) Leo? / Czech Republic
13/01/2014 14:30
God Bless you, Mr. Sharon!

60 ) Robert / US
13/01/2014 22:55
God doesnt bless a devil who throws dynamite into innocent peoples home killing the real peoples of the land. Rot and suffer, and to all who praise him , may you pay for your Racism and Stupidity. .

61 ) Colin Wright / USA
14/01/2014 07:16
To Brian Cohen #58: Brain, when is it going to dawn on you that this isn't actually an argument?

62 ) ian / australia
15/01/2014 21:35
#58 Jeez, Brian, this really isn't sinking in. Surely Israel aspires to better than replicating the colonial brutality of two centuries ago. The part of your argument you never spell out is that because earlier colonisers raped and pillaged and slaughtered and dispossessed, the Jewish State is gonna do it too. Laws now make that criminal, whereas when "we" were shooting Aborigines on the frontier, it was heinous but not illegal. But there are two models for dealing with dispossession: partition

63 ) ian / australia
15/01/2014 21:35
(contd.) inclusion, one state or two. In Australia we went with ONE state, one big democratic state for ALL citizens, as they did in South Africa and the US. As Israel always could. And that way, atoned for our bloody past. But if we followed the Israeli model - Israel's two state solution - we'd set aside an isolated, besieged territory of no value, bully Aboriginal Australians through farcical "negotiations" into accepting it as their sovereign state, strip them of citizenship and herd em' in.

64 ) ian / australia
15/01/2014 21:36
(contd.) Do you truly fail to see what a weird, morally ugly world pariah you are urging Israel to become?

65 ) robert imgrat / Ireland
15/10/2014 00:12
A big Man for such a small country was up to his task (nearly).
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