Ariel Sharon

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Ariel Sharon (1998) signature

Audio file / audio sample Ariel Sharon ? / i (Hebrew אריאל שרון, called אריק Arik ; born on February 26, 1928 as Ariel Scheinermann in Kfar Malal , British Mandate Palestine ; died January 11, 2014 in Ramat Gan ) was an Israeli politician and general . Until the Yom Kippur War in 1973 he was an active officer, often in decisive positions, involved in all military conflicts in Israel. At that time and in the following time, when he held several ministerial posts, he was considered a hardliner and protagonist of the settler movement. As prime minister from 2001 to 2006, however, he pushed through the withdrawal of the Israeli military from the Gaza Strip .


Sharon's father, Shmuel, came from Brest-Litovsk and his mother, who came from a Subbotniki family, from Mogilev in Belarus . His father had just completed his business administration studies in Tbilisi , specializing in retail sales, when he fled the Red Army as an active Zionist in 1921 and emigrated to Palestine with his mother . His wife Vera Schneeroff was therefore unable to complete her medical degree, which she regretted all her life. Unlike many immigrants at the time, she was neither socialist nor shared her husband's Zionism.

The family moved to the moshav Kfar Malal , where decisions were made collectively but each owned their own land. As the only farmer who had studied and was not willing to compromise, the father knew how to repeatedly disregard the decisions of the community, which sometimes isolated the family.

Early years

Service in the Hagana

Sharon as a 14-year-old (2nd from right)

At the age of 13, Sharon took part in the guard duty of the moshav and the following year he joined the underground organization Hagana , the forerunner of the Israeli army . Since 1941 he attended high school in Tel Aviv . There he, who was never an outstanding student, graduated from high school at the age of 17. Since his father rejected the Palmach's actions against national-conservative groups (such as Lechi and Etzel ) who fought against the British, Sharon did not join this elite unit, but the Jewish Settlement Police . The Hagana had been permanently mobilized since December 21, 1947, and Sharon took part in several of its actions.

War of Independence

At the beginning of the Israeli War of Independence in 1948, Sharon was a platoon leader in an infantry company that belonged to the Alexandroni Brigade. Among other things, he fought on May 26, 1948 in the first battle for Latrun , in which he was badly wounded and his platoon was almost completely wiped out. Later he was appointed reconnaissance officer in the battalion that fought first in the north against the Iraqi troops and later, shortly before the end of the war, in the south against the Egyptian troops.

After the war, the Alexandroni Brigade was transferred to reserve status. Sharon became a reconnaissance officer in the Golani Brigade , in which he was soon promoted to captain (Seren) and attended a battalion commander course. In 1950 he was appointed reconnaissance officer for the entire Central Command. Because of the consequences of malaria , Sharon took a break of several months in 1951 and traveled to Europe and North America for the first time. In November 1952, under the leadership of Moshe Dayan , Sharon was first involved in commando operations behind enemy lines. At the end of the year, however, he decided to retire from active service.

He began studying the history and culture of the Middle East at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem , which had already enrolled in agriculture in 1947. On March 29, 1953, he married his first wife Margalit (Gali for short), a Romanian Jew whom he had met in 1947. Margalit died in a car accident in 1962. Their son Gur also died early in 1967 in an accident with a family rifle. Sharon later married Margalit's younger sister Lily, with whom he fathered two sons, Omri and Gilad . Lily Sharon died of lung cancer in 2000.

Military career

The unit 101

In 1951 there were 137, 1952 162 and 1953 attacks by Palestinians on the young state of Israel. Since its borders were difficult to monitor, some attackers even managed to penetrate into the suburbs of Tel Aviv. Numerous - mostly civil - victims were to be mourned. After several counter-attacks, the Israeli military tried to hit the centers of the paramilitary and terrorist attackers. However, these were ineffective because the troops deployed were not specially trained and often suffered heavy losses. Sharon also carried out one of these unsuccessful counter-attacks. His military analysis of the action moved David Ben Gurion to Mordechai Maklef with the establishment of a special unit to instruct the unit 101 . At the end of July 1953, Sharon was entrusted with its management. Therefore he had to postpone his studies.

Sharon carefully selected the 45 members of the unit. Since October 1953 they have been subjected to tough training at Camp Sataf. The unit began military operations in enemy territory, which it referred to as "deterrent operations". In a collaboration with a company of paratroopers undertaken attack on the Jordanian village of Qibya 69 people were killed. Most of the victims were civilians who, despite eviction orders, hid in their homes, which were blown up by the Israelis. In his autobiography Ariel Sharon writes:

“If the civilian casualties were a tragedy, the attack on Qibya was a turning point. After so many defeats and failures, it was now clear that the Israeli troops were able to find and hit targets far in the enemy rear. What this meant for the morale of the army can hardly be exaggerated. "

The paratroopers

Sharon (left) with paratroopers, 1955

After Moshe Dajan was appointed Chief of Staff of Israel at the end of 1953 , Unit 101 was integrated into the paratrooper force . Sharon became the commander of the battalion, which the Israeli leadership believed was operating successfully. After the qibya action, however, only purely military targets were attacked. In addition to the prominent position of the paratroopers, the fact that Sharon used his personal contacts with Ben Gurion and Dajan to harshly criticize the methods of the army and for his personal ambitions led to problems between Sharon and his superiors in the army. There were also conflicts with the new defense minister, Pinchas Lawon , who, concerned about the foreign policy implications of the actions, tried in vain to curb Sharon. The unit's large-scale attack on the Egyptian headquarters in Gaza on February 28, 1955, which was one of the reasons for Gamal Abdel Nasser's increased use of Soviet military aid , also fell during this period . Another significant action was the attack on the Jordanian military headquarters in Kalkilia in October 1956.

The Suez Crisis

In the Suez Crisis , Sharon's 202nd Paratrooper Brigade played a crucial role. The 890th Paratrooper Battalion secured the eastern exit of the strategically important Mitla Pass after an air landing . The rest of the brigade under Sharon fought their way overland 200 km through enemy territory to the pass in two days.

Sharon asked several times to be allowed to attack the pass, but was only given permission to clear it up, so that if it should be vacant, it could be captured later. In a generous interpretation of his instructions, Sharon sent a very strong scouting party for purely reconnaissance purposes, which was bound by heavy fire in the middle of the pass. Sharon then sent the rest of his brigade to assist. In the now developing battle, the Israelis were able to capture the pass, with 38 Israeli soldiers falling. Several years later, some participants in the battle went to the press accusing Sharon of having carelessly put his scouts in danger in order to provoke the Egyptians. Other veterans of the action, however, took Sharon in protection.

Interwar period

The Mitla incident found the displeasure of Sharon's superiors and nearly brought his military career to a standstill for years. He remained in command of the paratroopers until, in the fall of 1957, Dajan sent him to Great Britain to Staff College Camberley for a year . There he wrote an analytical paper entitled: Command Interference in Tactical Battlefield Decisions: British and German Approaches . On his return he became a colonel and commander of the infantry school, a task that he did not like because of its theoretical burden. Later the command of a reserve infantry brigade was added. Sharon also began a tank course and attended an evening law course at the Tel Aviv Department of the Hebrew University (he graduated in 1966). Under pressure from Ben Gurion, Tzur finally appointed him commander of a reserve tank brigade, again an inactive role, which however appealed to him because of his interest in the strategic importance of tanks. It was not until the end of 1963 that Yitzchak Rabin , who later became Israeli Prime Minister, was appointed Chief of Staff that Sharon was included again and appointed commander of the Northern Command under Avraham Joffe . In 1966 he was finally promoted by Rabin to the rank of major general (Aluf), appointed director of military training, and commander of a reserve division .

The six day war

Before the Six Day War , Sharon campaigned, together with Joffe and Matti Peled , to replace the original tactic of a step-by-step plan, which provided for the gradual mastering of different fronts and trouble spots, with a larger-scale preventive strike on several fronts. Sharon planned an attack that would involve all available forces in the battle at the same time and from the beginning, and should also encompass the entire Sinai front . After Dajan's appointment as defense minister , this idea prevailed. During the war, Sharon commanded the most powerful armored division on the Sinai front (the other two divisions were those of Tal and Joffe), which made the breakthrough in the area of ​​Kusseima and Abu-Ageila. After all, it was Sharon who defeated the 6th Egyptian Division. Rabin then appointed Sharon commander of Sinai, which meant that he was also responsible for supplying the Egyptian soldiers scattered in the desert.

As head of military training, he began to move various training centers to the West Bank immediately after the war in order to secure the areas. In the end, he had occupied almost all of the former Jordanian military camps and barracks that were located at the important strategic points. He also tried to convince Dajan to relocate the soldiers' families near these barracks, but was unsuccessful at first.

In 1969 he became Chief of the South Command of the Israel Defense Forces . In January 1972, according to the Sharon biographer David Landau, he is said to have ordered the expulsion of 3,000 Bedouins in the Sinai desert because he wanted to carry out a military exercise on Bedouin land. The people are said to have been forced to leave their country in three nights in freezing temperatures without any preparation time. Around 40 people, mainly children, babies and the elderly, perished during the displacement. After the successful exercise, David Elazar ordered that the Bedouins be allowed to return to their land.

The Yom Kippur War

After the attack by Arab states on Israel at the start of the Yom Kippur War in 1973, Sharon was recalled from military retirement and entrusted with the leadership of the 143rd Panzer Division. Because of his unauthorized leadership style, he was in constant conflict with his superiors Major General Shmuel Gonen and Lieutenant General Chaim Bar-Lev during the unsuccessful counterattack on October 8, as well as during Operation Gazelle , the transition to the west bank of the Suez Canal. Sharon succeeded in building a bridgehead with great losses, but the decisive breakthrough and the subsequent enclosure of the 3rd Egyptian Army was forced by the 162nd Panzer Division under Major General Abraham (Bren) Adan , supported by another Panzer Division. During this operation, Sharon was given the task of securing the crossing point with his division as a priority, which he did not comply with until Bar-Lev threatened him with a procedure for insubordination. Sharon's attacks on Ismailia, as well as on the Missouri position on the east bank to secure the corridor, were unsuccessful. The fact that Sharon continued to emerge from the Yom Kippur War as a figure of light and victor is thanks to the growing Likud Bloc, which, as a bearer of hope, helped him build a legend that made him emerge victorious from the Yom Kippur War. Sharon was spared from all politicians and military officials who were in the crossfire of criticism after the war or even reprimanded by the Agranat Commission .

Political career


Before the Knesset elections in 1973, the Likud was formed with the major participation of Sharon, who had just left the army from the merger of the right-wing party alliance Gachal with smaller right-wing parties , in order to establish a bourgeois counterweight to the Maarach bloc led by the Avoda . Sharon had previously joined the Liberal Party after being a nominal member of the Mapai or Avoda as a general .

From 1973 to 1974 and from 1977 to 2006 Sharon was a member of the Knesset. In the Likud government of Menachem Begin , Sharon was first Minister of Agriculture (1977–1981), then Minister of Defense (1981–1983). As Minister of Agriculture from 1977 he became one of the most important advocates of the settler movement.

US Defense Minister Caspar Weinberger (left) meets Defense Minister Sharon in Israel, May 1982

During an Israeli military intervention in southern Lebanon as part of the Lebanese civil war, the Lebanese-Christian Falange militias, loosely allied with Israel, carried out a massacre of Palestinian fighters and civilians in the Palestinian refugee camps Sabra and Shatila in 1982 . An Israeli committee of inquiry, the Kahan Commission, stated 460 victims as safe and based on intelligence information there were around 800 civilian and military victims, while the Palestinian Red Crescent said there were 2,000 victims. Israel's indirect involvement as a military occupying power at the time, which did not intervene, sparked national and, above all, international indignation. The commission did not accuse Sharon of complicity, but of negligent omission, and therefore found him to be indirectly politically complicit in 1983, forcing him to resign as Defense Minister.

In the following cabinets, Sharon initially remained Minister without Portfolio (1983–1984), from 1984 to 1990 Minister of Trade and Industry and Minister of Construction (1990–1992). During this time he developed far-reaching Israeli settlement plans in the Palestinian West Bank with the controversial settlement ring around East Jerusalem , to which Ma'ale Adumim also belongs.

After the change of government in 1992, when the Labor Party under Yitzchak Rabin replaced Likud, Sharon was a member of the Knesset. There he was a member of the Foreign Policy and Defense Commissions. As Rabin's fiercest domestic political opponent, Sharon criticized Rabin for the Oslo peace process as a traitor. In 1996, the year after Rabin's assassination, the Likud under Benjamin Netanyahu won a new election; Sharon became Minister for National Infrastructure and, in this role, massively promoted the expansion of the Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. In 1998, Netanyahu appointed Sharon as foreign minister. In this position, Sharon urges his compatriots to “take as many mountain peaks as possible” in the occupied territories.

In 1999, the Labor Party under Ehud Barak defeated Likud, whose chairman Netanyahu was caught up in a financial affair. Netanyahu resigned as party leader and Sharon became his successor on May 27, 1999, initially on a temporary basis, and then on September 2, 1999 with 53% of the votes cast.

On September 28, 2000, Sharon, accompanied by around 1,000 journalists, police, military and politicians, visited the Temple Mount in Jerusalem , which was declared holy by Muslims as well as Jews and Christians , to make it clear that the Temple Mount also belongs to the Jews. He also wanted to make it clear that Israel must keep control of a united Jerusalem in every place. During his visit, accompanied by numerous armed security forces, Sharon said that he had come with a message of peace: "I am convinced that we can live with the Palestinians."

Although the visit was coordinated with the Muslim administration of the Temple Mount, there were violent clashes; During subsequent demonstrations, demonstrators were shot at with live ammunition, and many were injured and killed. Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount coincides with the beginning of the Second Intifada , which, according to the Arabic interpretation, was triggered by it, but which in any case had been announced for a long time. The Palestinians also refer to the second intifada as the "Al-Aqsa" intifada, named after the mosque of the same name on the Temple Mount. There were also attacks and plans by the armed Palestinian groups for the armed insurrection immediately before that.

prime minister

Ariel Sharon (2004)

Sharon won the election for Prime Minister on February 6, 2001, and then became Israel's Prime Minister on March 7, 2001. His promise to give top priority to the security needs of the Israeli people and to end terrorism was particularly popular with voters. However, he was unable to keep this promise during his tenure. Sharon rejected Yasser Arafat as an interlocutor on the Palestinian side, accused him of authorship of terrorism, isolated Arafat internationally and placed him under house arrest in the largely destroyed Muqataa .

In the 2003 election , Sharon achieved great electoral success with his Likud party. During the second term of Sharon's government, the construction of a 720 km long barrier partially in the middle of the Palestinian territories, which was reinforced with concrete over a distance of 20 km and whose international legal status is extremely controversial, began.

On March 23, 2004, Hamas announced again and again in response to the targeted killing of its leader, Ahmad Yasins , that it intended to assassinate Sharon. Just a few days after Yasin's killing, Sharon came under renewed pressure. Shinui MPs involved in the government called for Sharon's resignation. On March 28, Prosecutor General Edna Arbel announced that she would bring charges of corruption against Sharon and his sons . In mid-June 2004, after months of investigations, the Israeli Attorney General Menachem Masus decided not to indict Prime Minister Sharon. As the suspicion could not be substantiated and a conviction thus appeared unlikely, the proceedings were discontinued. Sharon also had another conflict at the same time as Masus: he had publicly reprimanded Sharon for speaking of the "occupied territories" in relation to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip - contrary to the official Israeli usage, which uses "disputed areas" . Despite the pending investigation, Sharon did not attach great importance to a relaxed relationship with the chief prosecutor and continued to insist on his choice of words.

In December 2003, Sharon presented the unilateral withdrawal plan known as the " Sharon Plan " from Gaza and parts of the West Bank, which would liquidate all settlements in the Gaza Strip and four in the West Bank. Despite international criticism of the lack of coordination with the Palestinians, many saw this plan as a step in the right direction and a departure from the previous settlement policy of Israel. Others saw this only as the insight that the military effort to keep the settlements in Gaza was unsustainable. The plan cost Sharon sympathy among the settlement movement and the political right of Israel, but it brought him approval in the moderate and left spectrum as well as among international allies. In order to implement the plan, which contradicted his previous policy, he ended the coalition with Shinui and Shas and entered into a grand coalition with the Labor Party . Within the party, he had a power struggle with opponents of the plan under Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu , who resigned from his position in August 2005 shortly before the Gaza withdrawal was completed.

On November 21, 2005, Sharon announced his resignation as prime minister and leaving Likud. After the resistance in the Likud against the withdrawal had grown, he had founded a new party called Kadima ("Forward") in the same month , which took advantage of its good chance in the following new elections.

Illness, coma and death

On December 18, 2005, Sharon suffered a minor stroke . Then an apparently congenital heart defect was discovered, which was supposed to be operated on on January 5th, 2006. On the evening before the operation, severe cerebral hemorrhages were found, and Sharon had to undergo several neurosurgical operations over the next few days . The business of government was transferred to the Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert . Tests on January 14th measured brain activity in both hemispheres, but showed no signs of awakening from the coma.

It was considered certain that Sharon would no longer be able to exercise his office. This created a difficult situation for Israeli politics, since in particular the policy pursued in recent years towards the Palestinians and the new Kadima party were closely linked to the person of Sharon. The Israeli public has criticized Sharon’s medical care; He should therefore not have been allowed to return to his remote farm without medical supervision. A journalist for the Ha'aretz newspaper put it: "Israel has now lost two prime ministers because they were not adequately protected: Rabin through violence and Sharon through illness."

On February 11, 2006, the doctors decided to have another emergency operation after examinations revealed damage to the politician's digestive tract and problems with the blood supply to the internal organs. According to statements by the treating physicians, Sharon's condition after the operation was "critical but stable". At the beginning of April 2006, another surgical procedure was carried out to close the openings in the skull that had been caused by the previous operations. On April 11, 2006, the Israeli cabinet decided to declare Sharon permanently incapacitated. His successor in the Prime Minister's office was his deputy Ehud Olmert.

Ariel Sharon was transferred to the rehabilitation ward of the Chaim Sheba Medical Center, a hospital in Tel Hashomer, a district of Ramat Gan near Tel Aviv , as a vegetative coma patient . His longtime advisor, Dov Weisglass, told the Jerusalem Post on April 21, 2008 that Sharon's condition had changed little. Sharon breathes without the aid of medical devices and, according to the doctors' judgment, could probably remain in this state for a long time. In November 2010, Sharon was relocated to his farm in southern Israel on a trial basis for a few days.

In October 2010, Sharon's condition was brought to the public again by an installation by Israeli artist Noam Braslavsky in the Kishon Gallery in Tel-Aviv, which shows a lifelike wax figure of Sharon in a hospital bed. Since the installation is connected to a ventilator , the chest rises and falls, making the scene even more realistic.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at the state funeral for Ariel Sharon on January 13, 2014

In January 2011, his personal doctor said Sharon reacts to pinching and opens his eyes when spoken to. On January 2, 2014, it became known that several internal organs had failed and that Sharon was in mortal danger. Ariel Sharon finally died on January 11, 2014 at the age of 85 from multiple organ failure in the hospital near Ramat Gan, where he has been treated since 2006.

Sharon was at a state funeral in the presence of high-ranking foreign politicians such as US Vice President Joe Biden , former British Prime Minister Tony Blair , ex-Prime Minister of the Netherlands Wim Kok , Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov , Czech Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok and Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier buried. He was buried next to his second wife Lily on January 13, 2014 on the Havat Shikmim family farm in the north of the Negev desert near Sderot .

The graves of Ariel and Lily Sharon

Political importance

Sharon was party leader of the Likud and founder of its split-off Kadima . Before he was head of government, he held various ministerial posts. Sharon was Minister of Agriculture , twice Minister of Defense and Minister of Foreign Affairs . After his stroke at the end of 2005, he had to be declared incapable of office as Prime Minister in April 2006.

The former general was very polarizing because of his biography and his politics. Many Israelis see him as a hero who has shaped their country in important positions since the war of independence . However, large sections of the Arab and international public see him primarily as one of the people responsible for the Sabra and Shatila massacres and the military hardliner. On the other hand, in 2005 he pushed through the abandonment of the Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip . Many supporters of the Israeli right, especially the settler movement, who for a long time saw him as their champion, became his opponents as a result of this policy. From their point of view, as Prime Minister he has shown himself to be too willing to compromise with the Palestinians.

On the occasion of his death in January 2014, many high-ranking politicians paid tribute to Sharon's services. US President Barack Obama described him as someone who dedicated his life to the State of Israel. Chancellor Angela Merkel also praised him as a patriot with great services to his country.


  • Ariel Sharon, David Chanoff: Warrior. To Autobiography. Simon & Schuster, New York 2001, ISBN 0-7432-2566-X .
  • Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Handbook. International Business Publications, USA 2003, ISBN 0-7397-6341-5 .
  • Norman H. Finkelstein: Ariel Sharon. Lerner Pub Group 2005, ISBN 0-8225-9523-0 (biography).
  • Gadi Blum, Nir Hefez: Ariel Sharon. The biography. Verlag Hoffmann & Campe, Hamburg 2006, ISBN 3-455-50002-1 .
  • Baruch Kimmerling : Politicide: Ariel Sharon's War Against The Palestinians. Verso 2003, ISBN 1-84467-532-7 (German politicidal. Ariel Sharon's war against the Palestinian people. Hugendubel, Kreuzlingen and Munich 2003, ISBN 3-7205-2375-6 ).


  • Ariel Sharon's last fight. Documentary, France, 2007, 93 min., Director: Michaël Prazan, production: Arte , first broadcast: May 21, 2008 ( summary by arte).

Web links

Commons : Ariel Scharon  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Ariel Sharon biography on (French)
  2. Ami Gluska: Israel's decision to go to war, June 2, 1967. In: MERIA - Middle East Review of International Affairs. Volume 11, No. 2, June 2007. Online link ( Memento from August 26, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  3. ^ Robert Tait: Ariel Sharon 'ordered the expulson of 3,000 Bedouins' . February 12, 2014, ISSN  0307-1235 ( [accessed August 10, 2019]).
  4. ^ Sharon Ordered Expulsion of 3,000 Bedouin, New Biography Reveals . In: Haaretz . February 12, 2014 ( [accessed August 10, 2019]).
  5. ^ Abraham (Bren) Adan: On the Banks of the Suez ISBN 0-89141-043-0 .
  6. Abraham Rabinovich, The Yom Kippur War. ISBN 0-8052-4176-0 .
  7. Gadi Blum, Nir Hefez: Ariel Sharon. The biography. Verlag Hoffmann & Campe, Hamburg 2006, ISBN 3-455-50002-1 , p. 148 and p. 169.
  8. Zehed Schiff and Ehud Ya'ari: Israel's Lebanon War . New York 1984.
  9. Gadi Blum, Nir Hefez: Ariel Sharon. The biography. Verlag Hoffmann & Campe, Hamburg 2006.
  10. Sharon 'showing brain activity'. BBC report on the disease, January 15, 2006.
  11. Sebastian Engelbrecht: Coma patient Sharon is allowed to go home on a test basis. archive, November 12, 2010 ()
  12. Michael Borgstede: Five years of coma - the new picture of Ariel Sharon ., January 4, 2011.
  13. ^ After five years in a coma. Ariel Sharon shows physical reactions., January 9, 2011.
  14. Sharon is in mortal danger: organ failure in Israel's ex-head of government. ( Memento from January 2, 2014 in the Internet Archive ), , January 2, 2014.
  15. Ariel Sharon, former Israeli prime minister, dies at 85. The Jerusalem Post, accessed January 11, 2014 .
  16. Ariel Sharon is dead. Retrieved January 11, 2014 .
  17. Ariel Sharon dies at 85: Joe Biden attends memorial ceremony to honor former Israeli prime minister
  18. Ariel Sharon laid to rest at family ranch in Negev desert after state funeral
  19. The grave of Ariel and Lily Scharon
  20. ex-prime minister died