Sunday, January 12, 2014

Ariel Sharon

Ariel Sharon (1928-2014) who died yesterday after 8 years in a coma, will be best remembered as a brilliant general and a great leader, who saved Israel from destruction in two wars. In the Six-Day War of 1967, disobeying orders, he parachuted with his troops into the Mitla Pass in Sinai and ambushed the main Egyptian Army as it tried to retreat in order to regroup. In the Yom Kippur War of 1973, he fought in the southern Sinai, defeated the Egyptian forces and crossed the Suez Canal over a ramp that he had prepared in 1967. He captured part of "Africa" and out-flanked the main Egyptian forces and caused their surrender. The IDF then advanced to within 101 km of Cairo. This action led to the subsequent ceasefire talks and the peace treaty with Egypt that was signed by Pres. Anwar Sadat and PM Menachem Begin in Washington in1979.

He was an agressive commander, not afraid to take risks and was nicknamed "the bulldozer." But, this eventually led to his downfall, when as Defense Minister in the Government of Begin in 1982, he exceeded his remit and ordered the IDF to invade Lebanon and capture Beirut. During this action the Christian Phalange milita that was nominally allied to Israel took the opportunity to enter the Palestinian refugee camps at Sabra and Shatila and massacred hundreds of Palestinians. Although Israeli troops were not involved and although Sharon did not give any orders to carry out such massacres, he was the ultimate authority in charge and was blamed for allowing the Christian forces to enter the camps. An enquiry in Israel found him guilty of indirectly causing the massacres and his political career was destroyed for 10 years.

During his terms in office he was the chief initiator of the building of Israeli settlements in the occupied areas that were part of the original Palestine mandate and that Israel claimed. He supported the building of settlements in Gaza as well as all over the West Bank and the expansion of Jerusalem. As a result he was adored by the right wing in Israel and abhorred by the left. When he returned to politics in 2000 as head of the Likud Party, he decided to tour the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and this led to Palestinian rioting that became the second intifada, although this was obviously planned prior to his visit. by Yasir Arafat. Sharon was elected PM in 2001 and was re-elected in 2003 and remained in office until his second major stroke in 2006, when he was suceeded by Ehud Olmert.

In his time as PM he decided that the Palestinians would never make peace with Israel and so he did an about-turn and introduced the policy of "unilateral disengagement." In 2005 he ordered the forced withdrawal of all 8,000 Israeli settlers and the IDF from Gaza, that was a very disruptive event in Israel and caused many of his former supporters to abandon him. Therefore he left the Likud Party and formed his own centrist party called Kadima (Forward). Then the left adored him and the right wing abhorred him. As such he was a very controversial figure in the end, and his policy of unilateral actions by Israel were considered a failure and will never be repeated.

This was his way, he never accepted the status quo, he always moved forward and showed disdain for political dogma and caution. He was an illustrious Israeli leader.


Post a Comment

<< Home