Ariel Sharon was known as The Bulldozer: a larger-than-life, blustering figure who came to dominate the domestic political scene as much by his sheer physical presence as by his rhetoric. He died this afternoon at the age of 85. Here are some important facts you need to know about this very important leader.
10. Unit 101
In 1953, Sharon created an elite military group called Unit 101. This special branch of the Israel Defense Forces was responsible for the launching of retaliatory strikes against Palestinian terrorists.
9. Renewed friendship with Africa
He renewed diplomatic ties with some African nations that had been cut off nearly a decade earlier. He also assisted with the immigration of large numbers of Ethiopian Jews to Israel.
8. Lebanon War 1982
Sharon allied himself with pro-Christian Lebanese, and supported a new government that was led by Bachir Gemayel. After Gemayel was assassination, a faction of Gemayel’s supporters attacked the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila. Palestinians held Sharon accountable for the terror. Sharon would later explain that the militia was supposed to rid them of any remaining terrorists. The Lebanese War put a dent on Sharon’s career as a military and political figure.
7. Meat lover
Sharon, 5-foot-7 and a meat lover, at times had weighed more than 300 pounds. Doctors ordered him to go on a diet in 2005 after a minor stroke. Stories of Sharon’s appetite and obesity were legendary in Israel. He would often stock his car with caviar, vodka, and snacks.
6. Eldest Son
Sharon’s eldest son, Gur, died at age 11 in a gun accident in 1967. Gur was playing with his friend when they found an antique gun and the friend accidentally pulled the trigger. Gur died in Sharon’s arms on the way to the hospital.
Sharon was very connected to his family farm in the Negev Desert. He asked for updated information when every calf was born, according to Sharon: The Life of a Leader.
4. Roadmap to peace
In May 2003, Sharon approved the Road Map for Peace, which paved the way to open a dialogue with Mahmud Abbas, showing his willingness to establish a Palestinian state.
Sharon was married twice. His first wife Margaret died in a car crash in 1962. He soon remarried Margaret’s sister Lily and the two were married until Lily died of cancer in 200.
2. Health problems
Sharon suffered a minor ischemic stroke, while still in office. He had no major health concerns before the major stroke that left him in a coma for 8 years. His obesity, combined with high cholesterol, contributed to his failing health.
He is ranked among the most powerful leaders in the history of Israel, who succeeded in removing the Israeli soldiers from Gaza. Unfortunately, he did not live to see the tensions diminish.
- Sabra, Shatila bid good riddance to Israel’s Sharon
- No Tears for Sharon at Site of Sabra and Shatila Massacre
- Ariel Sharon dies at 85, eight years after stroke that felled him
- Ariel Sharon – A Portrait in Blood and Sand