Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

21 Shevat 5761 - Febuary 14, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Ariel Sharon: Biographical Highlights
by Yated Ne'eman Staff

He was born on September 27, 1928, in Kfar Malal, as Ariel Scheinerman. Sharon is a widower and father of three sons, Omri and Gilad and Gur, who was killed in a shooting accident at age 11. His first wife, Margalit, was killed in a car accident. His second wife, Lily, died last year.

Sharon majored in history and Middle Eastern studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem (1953), and holds a law degree from Tel Aviv University.

The prime minister-elect lives on a Negev ranch known as Havat Hashikmim. He also owns a house in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City.

The young (17 years old) Sharon joined the Haganah in 1945 and served in the Jewish settlements' guard force. During the War of Independence, Sharon was a platoon commander in the Alexandroni Brigade and was wounded in the battle for Latrun.

In 1952, while in school, Sharon was placed at the head of Unit 101, that was established to carry out retaliatory raids against the fedayeen (Arab terrorist squads that mounted cross-border attacks into Israel). In 1954, Sharon commanded an infamous retaliatory raid on the village of Qibya, in the course of which civilian homes were bombed with their inhabitants still inside.

He was promoted to major-general in 1966 and made head of the Israel Defense Forces' Training Department.

In 1969, Sharon was appointed head of the Southern Command. He resigned from the IDF in 1973 to run for Knesset, but when the Yom Kippur War broke out that year, he was recalled to service as commander of an armored division. He led the IDF's crossing of the Suez Canal while in open conflict with his superior officers.

He was first elected to the Knesset in 1974 in Likud, but he resigned after one year. From June 1975 to March 1976 he served as a special advisor to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Before the next Knesset elections, he established his own party, Shlomzion, and won two seats. Shlomzion later merged with Herut as part of the Likud.

In Menachem Begin's first government, Sharon was given the agriculture portfolio and he also chaired the ministerial committee for settlement affairs. In this capacity, he oversaw the establishment of new Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. He became minister of defense in the Tenth Knesset.

In January 1982, at Sharon's request, the IDF General Staff finished preparing "Operation Oranim," which was carried out in June of that year as part of the "Peace for Galilee" War. The goals of Operation Oranim, according to Sharon, were to end the terrorist attacks on Israel's northern settlements, to bring political and military ruin to the terrorists in Beirut, to establish a legal Lebanese government that would sign a peace treaty with Israel, and to drive the Syrians away from the Beirut area.

On September 16, 1982, the day after Lebanese President Bashir Jemayel was assassinated, Sharon allowed the Christian Phalangists to enter the refugee camps of Sabra and Chatila to search for terrorists. The Christians massacred the Moslem refugees in the context of the long- running conflict in Lebanon which had a history of atrocities on both sides. The massacre led to the establishment of state commission of inquiry headed by Supreme Court President Yitzhak Kahan, as a result of a public outcry led by the Israeli Left, including Shimon Peres.

The Kahan Commission found that Sharon did not do enough to prevent the killings that were carried out in the camps by the Christian militiamen. He was forced to resign as defense minister and became a minister without a portfolio.

A New York court later ruled in favor of Sharon in a libel suit he had brought against Time magazine for claiming that he had encouraged the Jemayel family to take revenge on the Palestinians.

In April 1982, Sharon led the IDF operation evacuating Rafiah, scheduled to be handed over to Egypt. Sharon ordered that the buildings of Yamit be razed, saying the Egyptians would fill them with security personnel disguised as civilians.

In the Twelfth Knesset, Sharon served as minister of industry and trade, and later as minister of construction and housing.

The next time the Likud elected a new chairman, in February 1993, Sharon chose not to run against Benjamin Netanyahu.

After Netanyahu's defeat in the 1999 elections, Sharon was elected Likud chairman, over Ehud Olmert and Meir Sheetrit.


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