Former Israel PM Sharon buried at Negev ranch
Published Monday 13/01/2014 (updated) 14/01/2014 12:17
Israeli honor guards carry the coffin of former prime minister
Ariel Sharon into the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament) in Jerusalem,
on January 12, 2014.(AFP/Menahem Kahana)
SYCAMORE RANCH, Israel (AFP) -- Israel's controversial former prime minister Ariel Sharon was buried at his ranch in the southern Negev desert on Monday, an AFP correspondent said.
Sharon died on Saturday after spending eight years in a coma that struck him at the height of a decades-long career which saw him reviled as a warmongering criminal but lauded as a military hero in the country he called home. He was 85.
Eight military generals carried Sharon's coffin to the grave alongside that of his second wife, as a Jewish cantor intoned a traditional prayer for the dead.
Removing the blue and white Israeli flag draped over it, the generals lowered the coffin into the ground, then began filling the grave with dirt.
In accordance with tradition, a military rabbi went up to Sharon's two sons and made a symbolic cut in each of their shirts as a sign of mourning.
Sharon, who was born into a Jewish farming community in the British Mandate of Palestine in 1928, had wanted to be buried at his family home in Sycamore Ranch, which lies just kilometers from the border with the Gaza Strip.
Sharon is best remembered in the wider Middle East as leading Israel's devastating 1982 invasion of Lebanon, which killed up to 20,000 people, and for presiding over the massacre of around 3,000 Palestinian refugees in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut.
A controversial visit by Sharon to the Al-Aqsa compound in 2000 was a major contributing factor in the outbreak of the Second Palestinian Intifada, a national uprising against Israeli occupation that that was brutally repressed by Israeli authorities.