World Bulletin / News Desk
After an eight-year coma, former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon passed away on Saturday, drawing the curtains on the life of a controversial man, seen by Israelis as a hero and as a "killer" by the Arabs.
Born in 1928 in the Jewish settlement of Kfar Malal in British-mandated Palestine, Sharon served as the 1th prime minister of Israel.
A maverick of Israeli politics, he is considered by some Israelis as a "national hero", while others see him as a bump in the peace process. Others see the controversial politician as a war criminal in view of his military role in the Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon in 1982.
In 1983, Sharon was forced to resign as defense minister after the Commission of Israeli special judicial, decided that he did not make enough efforts to prevent the massacre of Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon.
For millions of Arabs and Palestinians, Sharon was a "mass killer", who sparked the second Palestinian uprising in 2000 by his provocative visit to Al-Aqsa mosque, Islam's third holiest shrine, in the company of heavily armed guards.
Sharon's father was a Jew who came to Palestine from Poland, while his mother came from Russia.
In 1942, young Sharon signed up for the Hagana, a local Zionist militia charged with guarding Jewish settlements. He was 14 years only then.
In 1948, he participated in the battle of Jerusalem against the Jordanian army. He, however, was captured in the battle of Latrun, but was released in a prisoner swap following the second truce.
When the guns fell silent, Sharon left the military and started his study at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Having finished his studies, he returned to the army in 1953 and created and ran an elite military group known as Unit 101.
The unit, however, was dissolved after it was involved in several attacks, including the massacre of Qibya in the fall of 1953, in which 170 Jordanian civilians were massacred. In 1971, Sharon led the operation to quash the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in the Gaza Strip.
Two years later, Sharon turned to politics and with a group of like-minded Israelis he co-founded the right-wing Likud Party.
In 1982, the Lebanese Christian militia allied with Israel committed a massacre in the Palestinian refugee camp of Sabra and Shatila in Beirut. Israeli opposition demanded to establish a committee into the massacre.
The recommendation of the investigation committee was to dismiss Defense Minister Sharon for ignoring warnings of the possibility of the massacre and failing to take appropriate action to stop the massacre. Yet, the report did not accuse him with the full responsibility of the massacre. Though he refused to accept the recommendation of the committee's report, Sharon was forced under pressures to resign from the post of defense minister.
In 2000, Sharon made a provocative visit to Al-Aqsa Mosque in Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem), triggering blooding clashes between the Palestinians and Israeli forces. Twenty Palestinians were killed and 100 others injured in the violence.
Demonstrations erupted on the following day against what the Palestinians described as "Sharon's defiling of Haram al-Sharif". The ensuing clashes opened the door for blood and served as the first episode in a series of confrontations between the Palestinians and Israeli police and army that came later to be known as the "second Palestinian Intifada" or uprising.
Tensions between the Palestinians and the Israelis lasted for four year during which approximately 9,000 Palestinians were killed.
In 2005, Sharon split from the Likud party and established Kadima due to his desire to secede from Gaza, which led to a rebellion against him among the party, calling for his overthrow.
Sharon has been in a permanent vegetative state since suffering a stroke on 4 January 2006. The stroke caused by a severe cerebral hemorrhage caused him loss of consciousness.
In 2008, his doctors explained in an interview with the army radio, (Galei Tzahal) that he was in a state of "minimum awareness" where he feels pain and is able to respond when hearing the voice of his relatives, but he is still in serious condition, without any significant improvement in his health since his transfer to the hospital.
On November 12, 2010, Sharon was moved to his home for an 48-hour visit as the beginning of a series of visits in order to return to his home.
Sharon accused of responsibility for numerous crimes, including:
- Qibya massacre of 1953.
- The killing and torture of Egyptian detainees in 1967
- Invasion of Beirut in 1982
- Sabra and Shatila massacre in 1982
- Jenin massacre in 2002