Ariel Sharon, the former Prime Minister of Israel, passed away on January 11. Sharon had been in a coma after suffering from a severe stroke in 2006. Although he had been holding firm, his condition rapidly worsened during his last few weeks, and death overtook him at age 85.
Sharon had a very controversial journey in his tenure as prime minister. Nicknamed the “Butcher of Beirut” by the Arab Nations, Sharon had a fierce personality and was an important figure who impacted the relationships in the Middle East for many years. Even though Sharon is disliked by the neighboring Arab nations, he was a war hero in the hearts of the Israeli people. Not only was he able to prevent severe damage during several invasions, but in many cases Sharon was also able to avenge the neighboring countries’ attacks swiftly. He single handedly decided to attack Lebanon during his term as the defense minister in the 1980s. His most famous military success was during the Yom Kippur War, during which he defied orders and took his men over Suez Canal. His bold decsion allowed Israel to prevail over the waves of Arab forces and win the war.
In 2001, Ariel Sharon returned as Israel’s prime minister with an important goal in mind, to return West Bank back to Palestinians. Many were surprised by his actions, as Sharon is the one that helped Israel to gain those lands. Although Sharon fought hard, his stroke interrupted his plans in January 2006. His legacy, however, remained inside many Israelis’ hearts. His funeral attracted multiple famous leaders and Israelis.
President Barack Obama praised Sharon for, “dedicating his life to Israel.” Sharon will always be remembered as a hero for the nation of Israel and his legacy will never fade in the hearts of the Israeli people. Current UK Prime Minister David Cameron gave thanks to Sharon as one of the most influential men in Israel’s history. Cameron remarks, “As Prime Minister, he took brave and controversial decisions in pursuit of peace before he was so tragically incapacitated. Israel has today lost an important leader.”
Sources: The NY Times, CNN, The Independent