Ariel Sharon, Former Israeli Prime Minister, died at 85

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Israeli politician and general who served as the 11th Prime Minister of Israel Ariel Sharon died on January 11, 2014, born on February 26, 1928 in Kfar Malal, an agricultural moshav, then in the British Mandate of Palestine, to Shmuel Scheinerman (1896–1956) of Brest-Litovsk and Vera (née Schneirov) Scheinerman (1900–1988) of Mogilev.

His mother, Vera, was from a family of Russian Subbotnik Jewish origin.

They immigrated to Mandatory Palestine in 1922 in the wake of the Russian Communist government’s growing persecution of Jews in the region.

Although his parents were Mapai supporters, they did not always accept communal consensus: “The Scheinermans’ eventual ostracism … followed the 1933 Arlozorov murder when Dvora and Shmuel refused to endorse the Labor movement’s anti-Revisionist calumny and participate in Bolshevic-style public revilement rallies, then the order of the day. Retribution was quick to come.

They were expelled from the local health-fund clinic and village synagogue.

Sharon played a key role in the War of Attrition. In 1969, he was appointed the Head of IDF’s Southern Command.

As leader of the southern command, on July 29 Israeli frogmen stormed and destroyed Green Island, a fortress at the northern end of the Gulf of Suez whose radar and antiaircraft installations controlled that sector’s airspace.

On September 9 Sharon’s forces carried out a large-scale raid along the western shore of the Gulf of Suez.

Landing craft ferried across Russian-made tanks and armored personnel carriers that Israel had captured in 1967, and the small column harried the Egyptians for ten hours.

Throughout his career, both in the military and in politics, Sharon was the man Israelis turned to when they thought they had no other choice.

Either leading from the front or calling the shots as an elected leader, he was always the soldier.

Even in his later years out of uniform, his military demeanour was just below the surface.

He never delivered on his promise of peace and security.

During the Lebanon war in 1982, Sharon, a former army general then serving as Israeli defence minister, was held indirectly responsible by an Israeli inquiry in 1983 for the massacre of hundreds of Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.

He was forced to resign. He was the man who encouraged Israelis to establish settlements on occupied Palestinian land, but he also was the leader who pushed for Israel’s historic 2005 withdrawal from 25 settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, which was turned over to Palestinian rule for the first time in 38 years.

From 1990-1992, he served as Minister of Construction and Housing and Chairman of the Ministerial Committee on Immigration and Absorption.

Following the fall of the Soviet Union and the waves of immigration from Russia, he initiated and carried out a program to absorb the immigrants throughout the country, including the construction of 144,000 apartments.

On September 28, 2000, Sharon made a visit to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the holiest place in Judaism to emphasize Israel’s claim to sovereignty over the Temple Mount.

Palestinians maintained that Sharon came with “thousands of Israeli soldiers” and defiled a Muslim holy place, when in fact, Israel’s Internal Security Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami permitted Sharon to visit the Temple Mount only after calling Palestinian security chief Jabril Rajoub and receiving his assurance that if Sharon did not enter the mosques, no problems would arise.

Sharon did not attempt to enter any mosques and his 34 minute visit was conducted during normal hours when the area is open to tourists.

Palestinian youths – eventually numbering around 1,500 – shouted slogans in an attempt to inflame the situation. Some 1,500 Israeli police were present at the scene to forestall violence.

 

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