|Birth Day:||February 26, 1928|
|Death Date:||Jan 11, 2014 (age 85)|
|Birth Place:||Kfar Malal, Israel|
As per our current Database, Ariel Sharon died on Jan 11, 2014 (age 85).
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He joined the youth military groups Gadna and Haganah.
Sharon was born on 26 February 1928 in Kfar Malal, an agricultural moshav, then in Mandatory Palestine, to Shmuel Scheinerman (1896–1956) of Brest-Litovsk and Vera (née Schneirov) Scheinerman (1900–1988) of Mogilev. His mother Vera had Russian Subbotnik Jewish ancestry. His parents met while at university in Tiflis (now Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia), where Sharon's father was studying agronomy and his mother was studying medicine. They immigrated to Mandatory Palestine in 1922 in the wake of the Russian Communist government's growing persecution of Jews in the region. In Palestine, Vera Scheinerman went by the name Dvora.
Four years after their arrival at Kfar Malal, the Sheinermans had a daughter, Yehudit (Dita). Ariel was born two years later. At age 10, he joined the youth movement HaNoar HaOved VeHaLomed. As a teenager, he began to take part in the armed night-patrols of his moshav. In 1942 at the age of 14, Sharon joined the Gadna, a paramilitary youth battalion, and later the Haganah, the underground paramilitary force and the Jewish military precursor to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
Sharon was married twice, to two sisters, Margalit and Lily Zimmerman, who were from Romania. Sharon met Margalit in 1947 when she was 16, while she was tending a vegetable field, and married her in 1953, shortly after becoming a military instructor. Margalit was a supervisory psychiatric nurse. They had one son, Gur. Margalit died in a car accident in May 1962 and Gur died in October 1967, aged 11, after a friend accidentally shot him while the two children were playing with a rifle at the Sharon family home. After Margalit's death, Sharon married her younger sister, Lily. They had two sons, Omri and Gilad, and six grandchildren. Lily Sharon died of lung cancer in 2000.
After recovering from the wounds received at Latrun, he resumed command of his patrol unit. On 28 December 1948, his platoon attempted to break through an Egyptian stronghold in Iraq-El-Manshia. At about this time, Israeli founding father David Ben-Gurion gave him the Hebraized name "Sharon". In September 1949, Sharon was promoted to company commander (of the Golani Brigade's reconnaissance unit) and in 1950 to intelligence officer for Central Command. He then took leave to begin studies in history and Middle Eastern culture at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Sharon's subsequent military career would be characterized by insubordination, aggression and disobedience, but also brilliance as a commander.
The Mitla incident hindered Sharon's military career for several years. In the meantime, he occupied the position of an infantry brigade commander and received a law degree from Tel Aviv University. However, when Yitzhak Rabin became Chief of Staff in 1964, Sharon again began to rise rapidly in the ranks, occupying the positions of Infantry School Commander and Head of Army Training Branch, eventually achieving the rank of Aluf (Major General).
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 29 July 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 9 September Sharon's forces carried out Operation Raviv, 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.
Bar Lev suggested that such a line would defend against any major Egyptian assault across the canal, and was expected to function as a "graveyard for Egyptian troops". Moshe Dayan described it as "one of the best anti-tank ditches in the world." Sharon, and Israel Tal on the other hand, vigorously opposed the line. Sharon said that it would pin down large military formations that would be sitting ducks for deadly artillery attacks, and cited the opinion of Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, who explained him "the great military disaster such a line could bring." Notwithstanding, it was completed in spring 1970.
Following his appointment to the southern command, Sharon had no further promotions, and considered retiring. Sharon discussed the issue with Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, who strongly advised him to remain at his post. Sharon remained in the military for another three years, before retiring in August 1973. Soon after, he helped found the Likud ("Unity") political party.
At the start of the Yom Kippur War on 6 October 1973, Sharon was called back to active duty along with his assigned reserve armored division. On his farm, before he left for the front line, the Reserve Commander, Zeev Amit, said to him, "How are we going to get out of this?" Sharon replied, "You don't know? We will cross the Suez Canal and the war will end over there." Sharon arrived at the front, to participate in his fourth war, in a civilian car. His forces did not engage the Egyptian Army immediately, despite his requests. Under cover of darkness, Sharon's forces moved to a point on the Suez Canal that had been prepared before the war. In a move that again thwarted the commands of his superiors, Sharon's division crossed the Suez, effectively winning the war for Israel. He then headed north towards Ismailia, intent on cutting the Egyptian second army's supply lines, but his division was halted south of the Fresh Water Canal.
Sharon's complex ground maneuver is regarded as a decisive move in the Yom Kippur War, undermining the Egyptian Second Army and encircling the Egyptian Third Army. This move was regarded by many Israelis as the turning point of the war in the Sinai front. Thus, Sharon is widely viewed as the hero of the Yom Kippur War, responsible for Israel's ground victory in the Sinai in 1973. A photo of Sharon wearing a head bandage on the Suez Canal became a famous symbol of Israeli military prowess.
In the 1940s and 1950s, Sharon seemed to be personally devoted to the ideals of Mapai, the predecessor of the modern Labor Party. However, after retiring from military service, he joined the Liberal Party and was instrumental in establishing Likud in July 1973 by a merger of Herut, the Liberal Party and independent elements. Sharon became chairman of the campaign staff for that year's elections, which were scheduled for November. Two and a half weeks after the start of the election campaign, the Yom Kippur War erupted and Sharon was called back to reserve service. On the heels of being hailed as a war hero for crossing the Suez in the 1973 war, Sharon won a seat to the Knesset in the elections that year, but resigned a year later.
Sharon's political positions were controversial, and he was relieved of duty in February 1974.
From June 1975 to March 1976, Sharon was a special aide to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. He planned his return to politics for the 1977 elections; first, he tried to return to the Likud and replace Menachem Begin at the head of the party. He suggested to Simha Erlich, who headed the Liberal Party bloc in the Likud, that he was more able than Begin to win an election victory; he was rejected, however. He then tried to join the Labor Party and the centrist Democratic Movement for Change, but was rejected by those parties too. Only then did he form his own list, Shlomtzion, which won two Knesset seats in the subsequent elections. Immediately after the elections, he merged Shlomtzion with the Likud and became Minister of Agriculture.
After the 1981 elections, Begin rewarded Sharon for his important contribution to Likud's narrow win, by appointing him Minister of Defense.
Under Sharon, Israel continued to build upon the unprecedented coordination between the Israel Defense Forces and the South African Defence Force, with Israeli and South African generals giving each other unfettered access to each other's battlefields and military tactics, and Israel sharing with South Africa highly classified information about its missions, such as Operation Opera, which had previously only been reserved for the United States. In 1981, after visiting South African forces fighting in Namibia for 10 days, Sharon argued that South Africa needed more weapons to fight Soviet infiltration in the region. Sharon promised that the relationship between Israel and South Africa would continue to deepen as they work to "ensure the National Defense of both our countries". The collaboration in carrying out joint-nuclear tests, in planning counter-insurgency strategies in Namibia and in designing security fences helped to make Israel, South Africa's closest ally in this period.
An Associated Press report on 15 September 1982 stated, "Defence Minister Ariel Sharon, in a statement, tied the killing of the Phalangist leader Bachir Gemayel to the PLO, saying 'it symbolises the terrorist murderousness of the PLO terrorist organisations and their supporters'." Habib Chartouni, a Lebanese Christian from the Syrian Socialist National Party confessed to the murder of Gemayel, and no Palestinians were involved.
The commission also concluded that Sharon bore personal responsibility "for ignoring the danger of bloodshed and revenge [and] not taking appropriate measures to prevent bloodshed". It said Sharon's negligence in protecting the civilian population of Beirut, which had come under Israeli control, amounted to a dereliction of duty of the minister. In early 1983, the commission recommended the removal of Sharon from his post as defense minister and stated:
Robert Maroun Hatem, Hobeika's bodyguard, stated in his book From Israel to Damascus that Phalangist commander Elie Hobeika ordered the massacre of civilians in defiance of Israeli instructions to behave like a "dignified" army. Hatem claimed "Sharon had given strict orders to Hobeika....to guard against any desperate move" and that Hobeika perpetrated the massacre "to tarnish Israel's reputation worldwide" for the benefit of Syria. Hobeika subsequently joined the Syrian occupation government and lived as a prosperous businessman under Syrian protection; further massacres in Sabra and Shatilla occurred with Syrian support in 1985.
After his dismissal from the Defense Ministry post, Sharon remained in successive governments as a minister without portfolio (1983–1984), Minister for Trade and Industry (1984–1990), and Minister of Housing Construction (1990–1992). In the Knesset, he was member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense committee (1990–1992) and Chairman of the committee overseeing Jewish immigration from the Soviet Union. During this period he was a rival to then prime minister Yitzhak Shamir, but failed in various bids to replace him as chairman of Likud. Their rivalry reached a head in February 1990, when Sharon grabbed the microphone from Shamir, who was addressing the Likud central committee, and famously exclaimed: "Who's for wiping out terrorism?" The incident was widely viewed as an apparent coup attempt against Shamir's leadership of the party.
Jordanian field marshal Habis Al-Majali claimed that Sharon was among 6 Israeli soldiers captured by the Jordanian 4th battalion during the battle, and that Habis took them to a camp in Mafraq and the 6 were later traded back. Sharon denied the claims, but Habes was adamant. "Sharon is like a grizzly bear," he grumbled. "I captured him, I healed his wounds." In 1994 and during the peace treaty signing ceremony with Jordan, Sharon wanted to get in touch with his former captor, but the latter determinedly refused to discuss the incident publicly.
Ariel Sharon criticised the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 as an act of "brutal interventionism". Sharon said both Serbia and Kosovo have been victims of violence. He said prior to the current Yugoslav campaign against Kosovo Albanians, Serbians were the targets of attacks in the Kosovo province. "Israel has a clear policy. We are against aggressive actions. We are against hurting innocent people. I hope that the sides will return to the negotiating table as soon as possible." During the crisis, Elyakim Haetzni said the Serbs should be the first to receive Israeli aid. "There are our traditional friends," he told Israel Radio." It was suggested that Sharon may have supported the Yugoslav position because of the Serbian population's history of saving Jews during the holocaust. On Sharon's death, Serbian minister Aleksandar Vulin stated: The Serbian people will remember Sharon for opposing the 1999 NATO bombing campaign against the former Yugoslavia and advocating respect for sovereignty of other nations and a policy of not interfering with their internal affairs.
During the latter part of his career, Sharon was investigated for alleged involvement in a number of financial scandals, in particular, the Greek Island Affair and irregularities of fundraising during the 1999 election campaign. In the Greek Island Affair, Sharon was accused of promising (during his term as Foreign Minister) to help Israeli businessman David Appel in his development project on a Greek island in exchange for large consultancy payments to Sharon's son Gilad. The charges were later dropped due to lack of evidence. In the 1999 election fundraising scandal, Sharon was not charged with any wrongdoing, but his son Omri, a Knesset member at the time, was charged and sentenced in 2006 to nine months in prison.
On 28 September 2000, Sharon and an escort of over 1,000 Israeli police officers visited the Temple Mount complex, site of the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque, the holiest place in the world to Jews and the third holiest site in Islam. Sharon declared that the complex would remain under perpetual Israeli control. Palestinian commentators accused Sharon of purposely inflaming emotions with the event to provoke a violent response and obstruct success of delicate ongoing peace talks. On the following day, a large number of Palestinian demonstrators and an Israeli police contingent confronted each other at the site. According to the U.S. State Department, "Palestinians held large demonstrations and threw stones at police in the vicinity of the Western Wall. Police used rubber-coated metal bullets and live ammunition to disperse the demonstrators, killing 4 persons and injuring about 200." According to the government of Israel, 14 policemen were injured.
On 18 June 2001, relatives of the victims of the Sabra massacre began proceedings in Belgium to have Sharon indicted on alleged war crimes charges. Elie Hobeika, the leader of the Phalange militia who carried out the massacres, was assassinated in January 2002, several months before he was scheduled to testify trial. Prior to his assassination, he had "specifically stated that he did not plan to identify Sharon as being responsible for Sabra and Shatila."
After the collapse of Barak's government, Sharon was elected Prime Minister on 6 February 2001, defeating Barak 62 percent to 38 percent. Sharon's senior adviser was Raanan Gissin. In his first act as prime minister, Sharon invited the Labor Party to join in a coalition with Likud. After Israel was struck by a wave of suicide bombings in 2002, Sharon decided to launch Operation Defensive Shield and began the construction of a barrier around the West Bank. A survey conducted by Tel Aviv University's Jaffe Center in May 2004 found that 80% of Jewish Israelis believed that the Israel Defense Forces had succeeded in militarily countering the Al-Aqsa Intifada.
In September 2001, Sharon stated for the first time that Palestinians should have the right to establish their own land west of the Jordan River. In May 2003, Sharon endorsed the Road Map for Peace put forth by the United States, the European Union and Russia, which opened a dialogue with Mahmud Abbas, and stated his commitment to the creation of a Palestinian state in the future.
In September 2003, Sharon became the first prime minister of Israel to visit India, saying that Israel regarded India as one of the most important countries in the world. Some analysts speculated on the development of a three-way military axis of New Delhi, Washington, D.C., and Jerusalem.
On 20 July 2004, Sharon called on French Jews to emigrate from France to Israel immediately, in light of an increase in antisemitism in France (94 antisemitic assaults were reported in the first six months of 2004, compared to 47 in 2003). France has the third-largest Jewish population in the world (about 600,000 people). Sharon observed that an "unfettered anti-Semitism" reigned in France. The French government responded by describing his comments as "unacceptable", as did the French representative Jewish organization CRIF, which denied Sharon's claim of intense anti-Semitism in French society. An Israeli spokesperson later claimed that Sharon had been misunderstood. France then postponed a visit by Sharon. Upon his visit, both Sharon and French President Jacques Chirac were described as showing a willingness to put the issue behind them.
On 1 December 2004, Sharon dismissed five ministers from the Shinui party for voting against the government's 2005 budget. In January 2005, Sharon formed a national unity government that included representatives of Likud, Labor, and Meimad and Degel HaTorah as "out-of-government" supporters without any seats in the government (United Torah Judaism parties usually reject having ministerial offices as a policy). Between 16 and 30 August 2005, Sharon controversially expelled 9,480 Jewish settlers from 21 settlements in Gaza and four settlements in the northern West Bank. Once it became clear that the evictions were definitely going ahead, a group of conservative Rabbis, led by Yosef Dayan, placed an ancient curse on Sharon known as the Pulsa diNura, calling on the Angel of Death to intervene and kill him. After Israeli soldiers bulldozed every settlement structure except for several former synagogues, Israeli soldiers formally left Gaza on 11 September 2005 and closed the border fence at Kissufim. While his decision to withdraw from Gaza sparked bitter protests from members of the Likud party and the settler movement, opinion polls showed that it was a popular move among most of the Israeli electorate, with more than 80 percent of Israelis backing the plans. On 27 September 2005, Sharon narrowly defeated a leadership challenge by a 52–48 percent vote. The move was initiated within the central committee of the governing Likud party by Sharon's main rival, Benjamin Netanyahu, who had left the cabinet to protest Sharon's withdrawal from Gaza. The measure was an attempt by Netanyahu to call an early primary in November 2005 to choose the party's leader.
Sharon suffered from obesity from the 1980s and also had suspected chronic high blood pressure and high cholesterol – at 170 cm (5 ft 7 in) tall, he was reputed to weigh 115 kg (254 lb). Stories of Sharon's appetite and obesity were legendary in Israel. He would often joke about his love of food and expansive girth. His staff car would reportedly be stocked with snacks, vodka, and caviar. In October 2004 when asked why he did not wear a bulletproof vest despite frequent death threats, Sharon smiled and replied, "There is none that fits my size". He was a daily consumer of cigars and luxury foods. Numerous attempts by doctors, friends, and staff to impose a balanced diet on Sharon were unsuccessful.
On 21 November 2005, Sharon resigned as head of Likud, and dissolved parliament to form a new centrist party called Kadima ("Forward"). November polls indicated that Sharon was likely to be returned to the prime ministership. On 20 December 2005, Sharon's longtime rival Netanyahu was elected his successor as leader of Likud. Following Sharon's incapacitation, Ehud Olmert replaced Sharon as Kadima's leader, for the nearing general elections. Likud, along with the Labor Party, were Kadima's chief rivals in the March 2006 elections.
To avoid a potential conflict of interest in relation to these investigations, Sharon was not involved in the confirmation of the appointment of a new attorney general, Menahem Mazuz, in 2005.
On 10 December 2005, Israeli police raided Martin Schlaff's apartment in Jerusalem. Another suspect in the case was Robert Nowikovsky, an Austrian involved in Russian state-owned company Gazprom's business activities in Europe.
Sharon was hospitalized on 18 December 2005, after suffering a minor ischemic stroke. During his hospital stay, doctors discovered a heart defect requiring surgery and ordered bed rest pending a cardiac catheterization scheduled for 5 January 2006. Instead, Sharon immediately returned to work and suffered a hemorrhagic stroke on 4 January, the day before surgery. He was rushed to Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem. After two surgeries lasting 7 and 14 hours, doctors stopped the bleeding in Sharon's brain, but were unable to prevent him from entering into a coma. Subsequent media reports indicated that Sharon had been diagnosed with cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA) during his December hospitalisation. Hadassah Hospital Director Shlomo Mor-Yosef declined to respond to comments that the combination of CAA and blood thinners after Sharon's December stroke might have caused his more serious subsequent stroke.
In the elections, which saw Israel's lowest-ever voter turnout of 64 percent (the number usually averages on the high 70%), Kadima, headed by Olmert, received the most Knesset seats, followed by Labor. The new governing coalition installed in May 2006 included Kadima, with Olmert as Prime Minister, Labor (including Amir Peretz as Defense Minister), the Pensioners' Party (Gil), the Shas religious party, and Israel Beytenu.
Ehud Olmert became Acting Prime Minister the night of Sharon's second stroke, while Sharon officially remained in office. Knesset elections followed in March, with Olmert and Sharon's Kadima party winning a plurality. The next month, the Israeli Cabinet declared Sharon permanently incapacitated and Olmert became Interim Prime Minister on 14 April 2006 and Prime Minister in his own right on 4 May.
Sharon underwent a series of subsequent surgeries related to his state. In May 2006, he was transferred to a long-term care facility in Sheba Medical Center. In July of that year, he was briefly taken to the hospital's intensive care unit to be treated for bacteria in his blood, before returning to the long-term care facility on 6 November 2006. Sharon would remain at Sheba Medical Center until his death. Medical experts indicated that his cognitive abilities had likely been destroyed by the stroke. His condition worsened from late 2013, and Sharon suffered from renal failure on 1 January 2014.
After spending eight years in a coma, Sharon died at 14:00 local time (12:00 UTC) on 11 January 2014. Sharon's state funeral was held on 13 January in accordance with Jewish burial customs, which require that interment takes place as soon after death as possible. His body lay in state in the Knesset Plaza from 12 January until the official ceremony, followed by a funeral held at the family's ranch in the Negev Desert. Sharon was buried beside his wife, Lily.
Currently, Ariel Sharon is 94 years, 9 months and 7 days old. Ariel Sharon will celebrate 95th birthday on a Sunday 26th of February 2023.
Find out about Ariel Sharon birthday activities in timeline view here.