Ariel Sharon

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Ariel Sharon
אריאל שרון

In office
7 March 2001 – 14 April 2006
(vegetative state from 4 January 2006)
President Moshe Katsav
Deputy Ehud Olmert
Preceded by Ehud Barak
Succeeded by Ehud Olmert

Born 26 February 1928 (1928-02-26) (age 82)
Kfar Malal, British Mandate of Palestine
Political party Kadima (formerly Likud and Shlomtzion)
Spouse(s) Margalit Sharon (d. 1962);
Lily Sharon (d. 2000)
Religion Judaism
Military service
Allegiance Israel Israel
Rank Aluf (Major General)

About this sound Ariel Sharon (Hebrew: אריאל שרון‎, also known by his diminutive Arik, אַריק) (born Ariel Scheinermann (אריאל שיינרמן) on 26 February 1928) is an Israeli politician and retired general, who served as Israel’s 11th Prime Minister. He is currently in a persistent vegetative state after suffering a stroke on 4 January 2006.

A commander in the Israeli Army since its inception in 1948, Sharon participated in the 1948 War of Independence, 1956 Suez War, Six-Day War of 1967, and the Yom-Kippur War of 1973. After retiring from the army, Sharon joined the right-wing Likud party, and served in a number of ministerial posts in Likud-led governments in 1977-1992 and 1996-1999. He became the leader of the Likud in 2000, and served as Israel’s Prime Minister from 2001 to 2006.

During his long military and political career, Sharon was considered a controversial and polarizing figure. In 1983 a commission established by the Israeli Government found that as Minister of Defense during the 1982 Lebanon War Sharon bore personal, but indirect, responsibility for the massacre by Lebanese militias of Palestinian civilians in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila. In 1970s, 1980s and 1990s Sharon championed construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. However, as Prime Minister, in 2004-2005 Sharon orchestrated Israel's unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip. Facing stiff opposition to this policy within the Likud, in November 2005 he left Likud to form a new Kadima party. In January 2006 Sharon suffered a major stroke that left him in a persistent vegetative state. In March 2006 elections, Kadima, led by Ehud Olmert following Sharon's stroke, went on to win plurality of Knesset seats, becoming the senior coalition partner in Israel's 31st government.



[edit] Early life

Sharon was born in Kfar Malal, then in the British Mandate of Palestine, to a family of Lithuanian Jews - Shmuel Sheinerman, of Brest-Litovsk (now Brest, Belarus) and Dvora (formerly Vera), of Mogilev. His father was studying agronomy at the university of Tbilisi, Georgia (Georgian SSR) and his mother had just started her fourth year of medical studies when the couple married. They immigrated to the British Mandate Palestine from Russia, fleeing the Red Army during the Bolshevik Revolution. Apart from Hebrew, Sharon's father spoke Yiddish and his mother spoke Russian; their son also learned to speak Russian as a young boy.[citation needed]

The family arrived in the Second Aliyah and settled in a socialist, secular community where, despite being Mapai supporters, they were known to be contrarians against the prevailing community consensus:

The Scheinermans' eventual ostracism... followed the 1933 Arlozorov murder when Dvora and Shmuel refused to endorse the Labor movement's anti-Revisionist calumny and participate in Bolshevic-style public revilement rallies, then the order of the day. Retribution was quick to come. They were expelled from the local health-fund clinic and village synagogue. The cooperative's truck wouldn't make deliveries to their farm nor collect produce.[1]

Four years after their arrival at Kfar Malal, the Sheinermans had a daughter, Yehudit (Dita), and two years after, they had a son, Ariel. At age 10, Sharon entered the Zionist youth movement Hassadeh. In 1942 at the age of 14, Sharon joined the Gadna, a paramilitary youth battalion, and later the Haganah, the underground paramilitary force and the Jewish military precursor to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

[edit] Military career

[edit] From 1948 War to Suez Crisis

Sharon as a young soldier

At the creation of Israel (and Haganah's transformation into the Israel Defense Forces), Sharon became a platoon commander in the Alexandroni Brigade. He was severely wounded in the groin by the Jordanian Arab Legion in the first Battle of Latrun, an unsuccessful attempt to relieve the besieged Jewish community of Jerusalem. In September 1949, Sharon was promoted to company commander (of the Golani Brigade's reconnaissance unit) and in 1950 to intelligence officer for Central Command. He then took leave to begin studies in history and Middle Eastern culture at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. A year and a half later, he was asked to return to active service in the rank of major and as the leader of the new Unit 101, Israel's first special forces unit.

Unit 101 undertook a series of military raids against Palestinians and neighboring Arab states that helped bolster Israeli morale and fortify its deterrent image. The unit was known for raids against Arab civilians and military,[2] notably in the widely condemned Qibya massacre in the fall of 1953, in which 69 Palestinian civilians, some of them children, were killed by Sharon's troops in a reprisal attack on their West Bank village. In the documentary Israel and the Arabs: 50 Year War, Sharon recalls what happened after the raid, which was heavily condemned by many Western nations, including the U.S.:

I was summoned to see Ben-Gurion. It was the first time I met him, and right from the start Ben-Gurion said to me: "Let me first tell you one thing: it doesn't matter what the world says about Israel, it doesn't matter what they say about us anywhere else. The only thing that matters is that we can exist here on the land of our forefathers. And unless we show the Arabs that there is a high price to pay for murdering Jews, we won't survive."

A few months after its founding, Unit 101 was merged with the 890 Paratroopers Battalion to create the Paratroopers Brigade (Sharon eventually became the latter's commander). It continued to attack military, culminating with the attack on the Qalqilyah police station in the autumn of 1956.[3][4]

In 1952-53, Sharon attended the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, taking History and Oriental studies.

Sharon was widowed twice. Shortly after becoming a military instructor, he married Margalit, with whom he had a son, Gur. Margalit died in a car accident in May 1962. Their son, Gur, died in October 1967 after a friend shot him while they were playing with a rifle.[5][6][7] After Margalit's death, Sharon married her younger sister, Lily. They had two sons, Omri and Gil'ad. Lily Sharon died of cancer in 2000.

From 1958 to 1962, Sharon served as commander of an infantry brigade and studied law at Tel Aviv University.

[edit] Mitla incident

In the 1956 Suez War (the British "Operation Musketeer"), Sharon commanded Unit 202 (the Paratroopers Brigade), and was responsible for taking ground east of the Sinai's Mitla Pass and eventually taking the pass itself. Having successfully carried out the first part of his mission (joining a battalion parachuted near Mitla with the rest of the brigade moving on ground), Sharon's unit was deployed near the pass. Neither reconnaissance aircraft nor scouts reported enemy forces inside the Mitla Pass. Sharon, whose forces were initially heading east, away from the pass, reported to his superiors that he was increasingly concerned with the possibility of an enemy thrust through the pass, which could attack his brigade from the flank or the rear.

Sharon asked for permission to attack the pass several times, but his requests were denied, though he was allowed to check its status so that if the pass was empty, he could receive permission to take it later. Sharon sent a small scout force, which was met with heavy fire and became bogged down due to vehicle malfunction in the middle of the pass. Sharon ordered the rest of his troops to attack in order to aid their comrades. In the ensuing successful battle to capture the pass, 38 Israeli soldiers were killed. Sharon was criticized by his superiors and he was damaged by allegations several years later made by several former subordinates, who claimed that Sharon tried to provoke the Egyptians and sent out the scouts in bad faith, ensuring that a battle would ensue.

[edit] Six-Day War and Yom Kippur War

The Mitla incident hindered Sharon's military career for several years. In the meantime, he occupied the position of an infantry brigade commander and received a law degree from Tel Aviv University. However, when Yitzhak Rabin became Chief of Staff in 1964, Sharon began again to rise rapidly in the ranks, occupying the positions of Infantry School Commander and Head of Army Training Branch, eventually achieving the rank of Aluf (Major General). In the 1967 Six-Day War, Sharon commanded the most powerful armored division on the Sinai front which made a breakthrough in the Kusseima-Abu-Ageila fortified area (see Battle of Abu-Ageila). In 1969, he was appointed the Head of IDF's Southern Command. He had no further promotions before retiring in August 1973. Soon after, he joined the Likud ("Unity") political party.[8]

At the start of the Yom Kippur War on 6 October 1973, Sharon was called back to active duty along with his assigned reserve armored division. His forces did not engage the Egyptian Army immediately, despite his requests. Under cover of darkness Sharon's forces moved to a point on the Suez Canal that had been prepared before the war. Bridging equipment was thrown across the canal on 17 October. The bridgehead was between two Egyptian Armies. He then headed north towards Ismailia, intent on cutting the Egyptian second army's supply lines, but his division was halted south of the Fresh Water Canal.[9]

Abraham Adan's division (Bren) passed over the bridgehead into Africa advancing to within 101 kilometers of Cairo. His division managed to encircle Suez, cutting off and encircling the Third Army, but did not force its surrender before the ceasefire. Tensions between the two generals followed Sharon's decision, but a military tribunal later found his action was militarily effective. This move was regarded by many Israelis as the turning point of the war in the Sinai front. Thus, Sharon is widely viewed as a war hero who saved Israel from defeat in Sinai. A photo of Sharon wearing a head bandage on the Suez Canal became a famous symbol of Israeli military prowess.

Sharon's political positions were controversial and he was relieved of duty in February 1974.

[edit] Early political career

[edit] Beginnings of political career

In the 1940s and 1950s, Sharon seemed to be personally devoted to the ideals of Mapai, the predecessor of the modern Labor Party. However, after retiring from military service, he was instrumental in establishing Likud in July 1973 by a merger of Herut, the Liberal Party and independent elements. Sharon became chairman of the campaign staff for that year's elections, which were scheduled for November. Two and a half weeks after the start of the election campaign, the Yom Kippur War erupted and Sharon was called back to reserve service. In the elections Sharon won a seat, but a year later he resigned.

From June 1975 to March 1976, Sharon was a special aide to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. He planned his return to politics for the 1977 elections; first he tried to return to the Likud and replace Menachem Begin at the head of the party. He suggested to Simha Erlich, who headed the Liberal Party bloc in the Likud, that he was more fitting than Begin to win an election victory; he was rejected, however. He then tried to join the Labor Party and the centrist Democratic Movement for Change, but was rejected by those parties too. Only then did he form his own list, Shlomtzion, which won two Knesset seats in the subsequent elections. Immediately after the elections he merged Shlomtzion with the Likud and became Minister of Agriculture.

When Sharon joined Begin's government he had relatively little political experience. During this period, Sharon supported the Gush Emunim settlements movement and was viewed as the patron of the settlers' movement. He used his position to encourage the establishment of a network of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories to prevent the possibility of Palestinian Arabs' return of these territories. Sharon doubled the number of Jewish settlements on the West Bank and Gaza Strip during his tenure.

On his settlement policy, Sharon said while addressing a meeting of the Tzomet party: "Everybody has to move, run and grab as many (Judean) hilltops as they can to enlarge the (Jewish) settlements because everything we take now will stay ours... Everything we don't grab will go to them."[citation needed]

After the 1981 elections, Begin rewarded Sharon for his important contribution to Likud's narrow win, by appointing him Minister of Defense. On 16 January 1982 US President Ronald Reagan, in his diary, said that Sharon was "the bad guy who seemingly looks forward to a war."[10]

[edit] Sabra and Shatila massacre

During the 1982 Lebanon War, while Sharon was Defense Minister, the Sabra and Shatila massacre occurred between September 16 and 18. Between 800 and 3,500 Palestinian civilians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps were killed by the Phalanges—Lebanese Maronite Christian militias. The Security Chief of the Phalange militia, Elie Hobeika, was the ground commander of the militiamen who entered the Palestinian camps and killed the Palestinians. The Phalange had been sent into the camps to clear out PLO fighters while Israeli forces surrounded the camps, blocking camp exits and providing logistical support. The killings led some to label Sharon "the Butcher of Beirut".[11]

An Associated Press report on 15 September 1982 stated:

Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, in a statement, tied the killing [of the Phalangist leader Gemayel] to the PLO, saying: "It symbolises the terrorist murderousness of the PLO terrorist organisations and their supporters." Habib Chartouni, a Lebanese Christian from the Syrian Socialist National Party confessed to the murder of Gemayel, and no Palestinians were involved. Sharon had used this to instigate the entrance of the Lebanese militias into the camps.

Robert Maroun Hatem, Elie Hobeika's bodyguard, stated in his book From Israel to Damascus that Hobeika ordered the massacre of civilians in defiance of Israeli instructions to behave like a "dignified" army.[12]

The Kahan Commission found the Israeli Defence Forces indirectly responsible for the massacre and charged Sharon with "personal responsibility." It recommended in early 1983 the removal of Sharon from his post as Defense minister. In their recommendations and closing remarks, the Commission determined that the massacre at Sabra and Shatilla was carried out by a Phalangist unit, acting on its own but its entry was known to Israel. It found that no Israeli was directly responsible for the events which occurred in the camps, asserted that Israel had indirect responsibility for the massacre since the I.D.F. held the area. Mr. Begin was found responsible for not exercising greater involvement and awareness in the matter of introducing the Phalangists into the camps. Mr. Sharon was found responsible for ignoring the danger of bloodshed and revenge when he approved the entry of the Phalangists into the camps as well as not taking appropriate measures to prevent bloodshed.[citation needed] In relation to Sharon, the Commission stated:

We have found...that the Minister of Defense [Ariel Sharon] bears personal responsibility. In our opinion, it is fitting that the Minister of Defense draw the appropriate personal conclusions arising out of the defects revealed with regard to the manner in which he discharged the duties of his office — and if necessary, that the Prime Minister consider whether he should exercise his remove [him] from office."[13]

Sharon initially refused to resign as Defense Minister and Prime Minister Menachem Begin did not fire him. After a grenade was tossed into a dispersing crowd of an Israeli Peace Now march, killing Emil Grunzweig and injuring 10 others, a compromise was reached: Sharon agreed to forfeit the post of Defense Minister but stayed in the cabinet as a Minister without Portfolio.[14] Sharon's removal as Defense Minister is listed as one of the important events of the Tenth Knesset.[15]

In its 21 February 1983 issue, Time published a story implying Sharon was directly responsible for the massacres. Sharon sued Time for libel in American and Israeli courts. Although the jury concluded that the Time story included false allegations, they found that Time had not acted with "actual malice" and so was not guilty of libel.[16]

On 18 June 2001 relatives of the victims of the Sabra massacre began proceedings in Belgium to have Sharon indicted on war crimes charges.[17] In June 2002, a Brussels Appeals Court rejected the lawsuit because the law was subsequently changed to disallow such lawsuits unless a Belgian citizen is involved.[18]

[edit] Political downturn and recovery

After his dismissal from the Defense Ministry post, Sharon remained in successive governments as a Minister without Portfolio (1983—1984), Minister for Trade and Industry (1984—1990), and Minister of Housing Construction (1990—1992). In the Knesset, he was member of the Foreign Affairs and Defence committee from (1990–1992) and Chairman of the committee overseeing Jewish immigration from the Soviet Union. During this period he was a rival to then prime minister Yitzhak Shamir, but failed in various bids to replace him as chairman of Likud. Their rivalry reached a head in February 1990, when Sharon snapped the microphone from Shamir, who was addressing the Likud central committee, and famously exclaimed: "Who's for wiping out terrorism?" The incident was widely viewed as an apparent coup attempt against Shamir's leadership of the party.

In Benjamin Netanyahu's 1996–1999 government, Sharon was Minister of National Infrastructure (1996—1998), and Foreign Minister (1998—1999). Upon the election of the Barak Labor government, Sharon became leader of the Likud party.

[edit] Campaign for Prime Minister, 2000-01

On 28 September 2000, Sharon and an escort of over 1,000 Israeli police officers visited the Temple Mount complex, site of the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque, the holiest place in the world to Jews and the third holiest site in Islam. Sharon declared that the complex would remain under perpetual Israeli control. Palestinian commentators accused Sharon of purposely inflaming emotions with the event to provoke a violent response and obstruct success of delicate ongoing peace talks. On the following day, a large number of Palestinian demonstrators and an Israeli police contingent confronted each other at the site. According to the U.S. State Department, “Palestinians held large demonstrations and threw stones at police in the vicinity of the Western Wall. Police used rubber-coated metal bullets and live ammunition to disperse the demonstrators, killing 4 persons and injuring about 200.” According to the GOI, 14 policemen were injured.

Sharon's visit, a few months before his election as Prime Minister, came after archeologists claimed that extensive building operations at the site were destroying priceless antiquities. Sharon's supporters point out that Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian National Authority planned the intifada months prior to Sharon's visit.[19][20][21] They state that Palestinian security chief Jabril Rajoub provided assurances that if Sharon did not enter the mosques, no problems would arise. They also often quote statements by Palestinian Authority officials, particularly Imad Falouji, the P.A. Communications Minister, who admitted months after Sharon's visit that the violence had been planned in July, far in advance of Sharon's visit, stating the intifada "was carefully planned since the return of (Palestinian President) Yasser Arafat from Camp David negotiations rejecting the U.S. conditions".[22] According to the Mitchell Report,

President George W. Bush, center, discusses the Middle East peace process with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel, left, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Aqaba, Jordan, 4 June 2003.
the government of Israel asserted that the immediate catalyst for the violence was the breakdown of the Camp David negotiations on 25 July 2000 and the “widespread appreciation in the international community of Palestinian responsibility for the impasse.” In this view, Palestinian violence was planned by the PA leadership, and was aimed at “provoking and incurring Palestinian casualties as a means of regaining the diplomatic initiative.”

The Mitchell Report found that

the Sharon visit did not cause the Al-Aqsa Intifada. But it was poorly timed and the provocative effect should have been foreseen; indeed, it was foreseen by those who urged that the visit be prohibited. More significant were the events that followed: The decision of the Israeli police on 29 September to use lethal means against the Palestinian demonstrators.

In addition, the report stated,

Accordingly, we have no basis on which to conclude that there was a deliberate plan by the PA to initiate a campaign of violence at the first opportunity; or to conclude that there was a deliberate plan by the GOI to respond with lethal force.[23]

The Or Commission, an Israeli panel of inquiry appointed to investigate the October 2000 events,

criticised the Israeli police for being unprepared for the riots and possibly using excessive force to disperse the mobs, resulting in the deaths of 12 Arab Israeli, one Jewish and one Palestinian citizens.

Palestinians doubt the existence of popular support for Sharon's actions. Polls published in the media, as well as the 140% call-up of reservists (as opposed to the 60% in regular periods) seem to indicate that the Israeli public is quite supportive of Sharon's policies. A survey conducted by Tel Aviv University's Jaffe Center in May 2004 found that 80% of Jewish Israelis believe that the Israel Defense Forces have succeeded in militarily countering the Al-Aqsa Intifada.[24]

[edit] Prime minister

After the collapse of Barak's government, Sharon was elected Prime Minister in February 2001.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, United States President George W. Bush, and Ariel Sharon, Red Sea Summit, Aqaba, 2003
President Bush and Prime Minister Sharon, White House, 2004

On 20 July 2004, Sharon called on French Jews to emigrate from France to Israel immediately, in light of an increase in French anti-Semitism (94 anti-Semitic assaults reported in the first six months of 2004 compared to 47 in 2003). France has the fourth largest Jewish population (about 600,000 people), after the United States, Israel, and Russia. Sharon observed that an "unfettered anti-Semitism" reigned in France. The French government responded by describing his comments as "unacceptable", as did the French representative Jewish organization CRIF, which denied Sharon's claim of intense anti-Semitism in French society. An Israeli spokesperson later claimed that Sharon had been misunderstood. France then postponed a visit by Sharon. Upon his visit, both Sharon and French President Jacques Chirac were described as showing a willingness to put the issue behind them.

[edit] Unilateral disengagement

Sharon and Donald Rumsfeld

In May 2003, Sharon endorsed the Road Map for Peace put forth by the United States, European Union, and Russia, which opened a dialogue with Mahmud Abbas, and announced his commitment to the creation of a Palestinian state in the future.

He has embarked on a course of unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, while maintaining control of its coastline and airspace. Sharon's plan has been welcomed by both the Palestinian Authority and Israel's left wing as a step towards a final peace settlement.[citation needed] However, it has been greeted with opposition from within his own Likud party and from other right wing Israelis, on national security, military, and religious grounds.[25]

[edit] Detractors of withdrawal plan

Detractors have publicly distrusted Sharon's motives for this plan, and their suspicions were further roused after publication of an interview with top Sharon aide Dov Weisglass in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on 8 October 2004, in which he explained Israel's motivation for withdrawing from Gaza. He told the newspaper:

[edit] Disengagement from Gaza

On 1 December 2004, Sharon dismissed five ministers from the Shinui party for voting against the government's 2005 budget. In January 2005 Sharon formed a national unity government that included representatives of Likud, Labor, and Meimad and Degel HaTorah as "out-of-government" supporters without any seats in the government (United Torah Judaism parties usually reject having ministerial offices as a policy). Between 16 and 30 August 2005, Sharon controversially expelled 9,480 Jewish settlers from 21 settlements in Gaza and four settlements in the northern West Bank. Once it became clear that the evictions were definitely going ahead a group of conservative Rabbis, led by Rabbi Yosef Dayan, placed an ancient curse on him known as the Pulsa diNura, calling on the Angel of Death to intervene and kill him. After Israeli soldiers bulldozed every settlement structure except for several former synagogues, Israeli soldiers formally left Gaza on 11 September 2005 and closed the border fence at Kissufim. While his decision to withdraw from Gaza sparked bitter protests from members of the Likud party and the settler movement, opinion polls showed that it was a popular move among most of the Israeli electorate with more than 80% of Israelis backing the plans.[26] On 27 September 2005, Sharon narrowly defeated a leadership challenge by a 52-48 percent vote. The move was initiated within the central committee of the governing Likud party by Sharon's main rival, Binyamin Netanyahu, who had left the cabinet to protest Sharon's withdrawal from Gaza. The measure was an attempt by Netanyahu to call an early primary in November 2005 to choose the party's leader.

[edit] Founding of Kadima

On 21 November 2005, Sharon resigned as head of Likud, and dissolved parliament to form a new centrist party called Kadima ("Forward"). November polls indicated that Sharon was likely to be returned to the prime ministership. On 20 December 2005, Sharon's longtime rival Benjamin Netanyahu was elected his successor as leader of Likud.[27] Following Sharon's incapacitation, Ehud Olmert replaced Sharon as Kadima's leader, for the nearing general elections. Netanyahu, along with Labor's Amir Peretz, were Kadima's chief rivals in the March 2006 elections.

In the elections, which saw Israel's lowest-ever voter turnout of 64%[28] (the number usually averages on the high 70%), Kadima, headed by Olmert, received the most Knesset seats, followed by Labor. The new governing coalition installed in May 2006 included Kadima, with Olmert as Prime Minister, Labor (including Peretz as Defense Minister), the Gil (Pensioner's) Party, the Shas religious party, and Yisrael Beiteinu.

[edit] Financial scandals

During the latter part of his career Sharon was investigated for alleged involvement in a number of financial scandals, in particular, Greek Island Affair and irregularities of fundraising during 1999 election campaign. In the Greek Island Affair, Sharon was accused of promising (during his term as Foreign Minister) to help an Israeli businessman David Appel in his development project on a Greek island in exchange for large consultancy payments to Sharon's son Gilad. The charges were later dropped due to lack of evidence. In the 1999 election fundraising scandal, Sharon was not charged with any wrongdoing, but his son Omri, a Knesset member at the time, was charged and sentenced in 2006 to nine months in prison.

To avoid a potential conflict of interest in relation to these investigations, Sharon in his role as Prime Minister was not involved in the confirmation of the appointment of a new Attorney General Menahem Mazuz in 2005.

[edit] Incapacitation and end of political career

[edit] Stroke of December 2005

On 18 December 2005 Sharon was sent to Hadassah Medical Center after suffering a mild stroke, specifically a relatively unusual type called a paradoxical embolism, in which a clot from the venous circulation crosses over into the arterial circulation through a hole between the right and left atrium called an atrial septal defect (or a patent foramen ovale) and goes to the brain, causing a transient speech and motor disturbance.

Sharon often joked about his own weight; in October 2004 when asked why he did not wear a ballistic vest despite frequent death threats, Sharon smiled and replied, "There is none that fits my size".[29]

On his way to the hospital he lost consciousness but regained it shortly thereafter. He reportedly wanted to leave the hospital the evening after his arrival but the hospital wanted him to stay another day. He spent two days in the hospital and was to have had the small hole in his heart repaired by a cardiac catheterization procedure in early January.

[edit] Stroke of January 2006

On 4 January 2006, in the evening before his catheterization, Sharon suffered a second, far more serious stroke at his Sycamore Ranch in the Negev region. A "massive cerebral haemorrhage" led to bleeding in his brain which doctors eventually brought under control the following morning after performing two separate operations. After the first operation, lasting seven hours, Hadassah Director Shlomo Mor-Yosef reported Sharon's bleeding had stopped and his brain was functioning without artificial support.[30] After a second, 14-hour surgery, Sharon was placed on a ventilator and some reports suggested that he was suffering from paralysis in his lower body, while others said he was still fighting for his life. He was placed in an induced coma and his Prime Ministerial duties were handed over to his deputy, Ehud Olmert. On Friday, 6 January, Sharon was brought back into the operating theatre after doctors reviewed the results of a brain scan. Hospital officials declined to comment on these reports.

On the night of Sharon's stroke, in the wake of his serious illness and following consultations between Government Secretary Israel Maimon and Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, Sharon was declared "temporarily incapable of discharging his powers." As a result, Ehud Olmert, the Deputy Prime Minister, was officially confirmed as the Acting Prime Minister of Israel. Olmert and the Cabinet announced that the elections would take place on 28 March as scheduled.

On 9 January, Haaretz reported that while performing tests on Sharon while treating his second stroke, doctors had discovered he was suffering from undiagnosed cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA), a brain disorder which, in conjunction with anticoagulant medication prescribed after his first stroke, greatly increased his risk of cerebral hemorrhage. Although some have insinuated that this news represents a failure on Hadassah's part to provide adequate care for Sharon, CAA can be very difficult to diagnose accurately, and is often discovered only after an individual suffers a brain hemorrhage. The following day, newspapers reported that Sharon's CAA had actually been diagnosed following his first stroke in December. This was confirmed by hospital director Mor-Yosef who commented "Hadassah physicians were aware of the brain diagnosis, and no new diagnosis has been made during the current hospitalization." Mor-Yosef declined to respond to criticism of the combination of blood thinners and a CAA diagnosis, though Haaretz quoted some doctors as saying the medication led to the second stroke and that it would never have been given if doctors had known about his brain condition.[31]

Sharon underwent subsequent surgeries the following month. On 11 February 2006, doctors performed emergency surgery to remove 50 cm of his large intestine that had become necrotic, probably because of a blood clot.[32] On 22 February, he underwent an additional procedure to drain excess fluid from his stomach, discovered during a CT scan.[33]

[edit] Criticism

Several commentators have criticised Sharon's care. Most seriously, after his second stroke, Sharon was transported by ground ambulance to the hospital, a trip that took approximately one hour. Helicopter transport was not used.[34] Also, other commentators have said that the dose of blood thinner given to Sharon was potentially problematic for someone who had recently suffered a stroke.[35]

[edit] Replacement by Ehud Olmert

According to Israeli law, an Acting Prime Minister can remain in office 100 days after the Prime Minister has become incapacitated. After 100 days, the Israeli President must appoint a new Prime Minister. At the time of his stroke, Sharon enjoyed considerable support from the general public in Israel.[36] The new centrist political party that he founded, Kadima, won the largest number of seats in the Knesset elections held on 28 March 2006. (Since Sharon was unable to sign a nomination form, he was not a candidate and therefore ceased to be a Knesset member.)

On 6 April, President of Israel Moshe Katsav formally asked Ehud Olmert to form a government, making him Prime Minister-Designate. Olmert had an initial period of 28 days to form a governing coalition, with a possible two-week extension.[37] On 11 April 2006, the Israeli Cabinet deemed that Sharon was incapacitated. Although Sharon's replacement was to be named within 100 days of his becoming incapacitated, the replacement deadline was extended due to the Jewish festival of Passover.[38] A provision was made that, should Sharon's condition improve between 11 April and 14 April, the declaration would not take effect. Therefore, the official declaration took effect on 14 April, formally ending Sharon's term as Prime Minister and making Ehud Olmert the country's new Prime Minister.

[edit] Subsequent care

On 28 May 2006, Sharon was transferred from the hospital in Jerusalem to a long-term care unit of the Sheba Medical Center in Tel HaShomer, a large civilian and military hospital. Ha'aretz reported that this move was an indication that Sharon's doctors did not expect him to emerge from his coma in the foreseeable future. Dr. Yuli Krieger, a physician not involved in Sharon's case, told Israel Radio that the chances of waking up after such a lengthy coma were small. "Every day that passes after this kind of event with the patient still unconscious the chances that he will gain consciousness get smaller," said Krieger, Deputy Head of Levinstein House, another long-term care facility.[39]

On 23 July 2006, CNN reported that Sharon's condition was deteriorating and his kidney function was worsening.[40] On 26 July 2006 doctors moved him to intensive care and began hemofiltration.[41] On 14 August 2006 doctors reported that Sharon's condition worsened significantly and that he was suffering from pneumonia in both lungs.[42] On 29 August, doctors reported that he had been successfully treated for his pneumonia and moved out of intensive care back to the long-term care unit.[43]

On 3 November 2006, it was reported that Sharon had been admitted to intensive care after contracting an infection, though doctors insisted that his condition was 'stable'.[44] He was moved out of the intensive care unit on 6 November 2006 after treatment for a heart infection. Doctors stated that "his heart function has improved after being treated for an infection and his overall condition has stabilised".[45]

In 2006, there were reports that Austrian and Israeli police were investigating Martin Schlaff and Robert Nowikovsky of illicit payments to Sharon.[46][47][48]

Sharon has remained in a long-term care centre since 6 November 2006.[49] Medical experts have indicated that Sharon's cognitive abilities were destroyed by the massive stroke, and that he is in a persistent vegetative state with slim chances of regaining consciousness.[50]

On 13 April 2007, it was reported that Sharon's condition had slightly improved and that according to his son, Omri, he was marginally responsive.[51] On 27 October 2009 his doctor reported that he is still comatose but in a stable condition.[52] In 2010, it was reported that he now weighs about 50 kilograms (110 pounds).[53]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Honig, Sarah (15 February 2001). "Another tack: Yoni & the Scheinermans". The Jerusalem Post. 
  2. ^ "Ariel Sharon — Biography: 1953 Retribution Acts (Pe'ulot Tagmul)". Retrieved 6 August 2009. 
  3. ^ "Jewish Virtual Library — Israeli Special Forces History". Retrieved 4 September 2009. 
  4. ^ "Unit 101 (history) -". Retrieved 6 September 2009. 
  5. ^ "Sharon mourns slain son". 15 February 2005. Retrieved 15 April 2006. 
  6. ^ Brockes, Emma (7 November 2001). "The Bulldozer". The Guardian (London).,2763,589127,00.html. Retrieved 15 April 2006. 
  7. ^ "The Quest for Peace: Transcript". 14 June 2003. Retrieved 28 March 2006. 
  8. ^ "Israel's generals: Ariel Sharon". BBC Four. 17 June 2004. Retrieved 15 April 2006. 
  9. ^ Dr. George W. Gawrych The Alabatross of Decisive Victory: The 1973 Arab-Israeli War p.72
  10. ^ Reagan, Ronald edited by Douglas Brinkley (2007) The Reagan Diaries Harper Collins ISBN 978-0-06-0876005 p 63, Saturday, 16 January
  11. ^ "Sharon victory: An Arab nightmare". BBC News. 6 February 2001. 
  12. ^ Robert Maroun Hatem, From Israel to Damascus, Chapter 7: The Massacres at Sabra and Shatilla online. Accessed 24 Feb 2006.
  13. ^ "Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the events at the refugee camps in Beirut - 8 February 1983". Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 8 February 1983. Retrieved 15 April 2006. 
  14. ^ Schiff, Ze'ev; Ya'ari, Ehud (1984). Israel's Lebanon War. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster. pp. 284. ISBN 0-671-47991-1. 
  15. ^ Knesset 9-11
  16. ^ "Errors and corrections". Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America. Retrieved 15 April 2006. 
  17. ^ "The Complaint Against Ariel Sharon for his involvement in the massacres at Sabra and Shatila". The Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding. Retrieved 15 April 2006. 
  18. ^ (French) "Cour de cassation de Belgique" (PDF). La faculté de Droit de Namur. 12 February 2003. 
  19. ^ Khaled Abu Toameh (19 September 2002). "How the war began". 
  20. ^ Charles Krauthammer (20 May 2001). "Middle East Troubles". 
  21. ^ Mitchell G. Bard. "Myths & Facts Online: The Palestinian Uprisings". Jewish Virtual Library. 
  22. ^ Stewart Ain (20 December 2000). "PA: Intifada Was Planned". The Jewish Week. 
  23. ^ "The Mitchell Report". Jewish Virtual Library. 4 May 2001. 
  24. ^ (Hebrew) "מדד השלום" (PDF). The Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research. May 2004. 
  25. ^ "Ariel Sharon — Biography: 2004 Disengagement Plan". Retrieved 6 August 2009. 
  26. ^ "Sharon party agrees coalition plan — Dec 9, 2004". 10 December 2004. Retrieved 6 August 2009. 
  27. ^ Urquhart, Conal (20 December 2005). "Sharon recovers as chief rival wins control of Likud". The Guardian (London).,2763,1671030,00.html. Retrieved 25 April 2010. 
  28. ^ "Elections for the Local Authority – Who, What, When, Where and How? - The Israel Democracy Institute". Retrieved 6 August 2009. 
  29. ^ "No flak jacket in Sharon's size | AFP | Find Articles at". 2 June 2009. Retrieved 6 August 2009. 
  30. ^ Simon Jeffery. Sharon's condition critical after surgery, The Guardian , 5 January 2006.
  31. ^ Mark Willacy, Israeli PM Sharon moves left side, ABC News, 10 January 2006.
  32. ^ Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, PM 'stable' after emergency surgery, Jerusalem Post, 11 February 2006.
  33. ^ Comatose Sharon has stomach drained, CNN, 23 February 2006.
  34. ^ "Middle East | Israeli PM suffers serious stroke". BBC News. 5 January 2006. Retrieved 6 August 2009. 
  35. ^ Sabin Russell, Chronicle Medical Writer (5 January 2006). "Sharon felled by medicine side effect / Rare consequence of blood-thinner to prevent new stroke". Retrieved 6 August 2009. 
  36. ^ Marcus, Jonathan (5 January 2006). "Can Kadima survive without Sharon?". BBC News. Retrieved 28 March 2006. 
  37. ^ Eldar, Akiva (6 April 2006). "Katsav invites Olmert to form next government". Haaretz. Retrieved 6 April 2006. 
  38. ^ Hasson, Nir (6 April 2006). "Cabinet approves appointment of Ehud Olmert as interim PM". Ha'aretz. 
  39. ^ "Ariel Sharon transferred to long-term treatment in Tel HaShomer". Ha'aretz. 28 May 2006. Retrieved 28 May 2006. 
  40. ^ "Sharon's condition worsens". CNN. 23 July 2006. Retrieved 23 July 2006. 
  41. ^ "Hospital: Sharon taken to intensive care". CNN. 26 July 2006. Retrieved 26 July 2006. 
  42. ^ Sharon's health deteriorates -
  43. ^ "RTÉ News: Sharon is out of intensive care". 29 August 2006. Retrieved 6 August 2009. 
  44. ^ "Sharon admitted to intensive care". BBC News. 3 November 2006. Retrieved 5 November 2006. 
  45. ^ Sharon leaves intensive care unit, BBC
  46. ^ Hillel Fendel."Police Say There´s Evidence Linking Sharon to $3 Million Bribe" Arutz Sheva, 01/03/06
  47. ^ A tale of gazoviki, money and greed. Stern magazine, September 13, 2007
  48. ^ Police have evidence Sharon's family takes bribes: TV Xinhua
  49. ^ "Middle East | Sharon leaves intensive care unit". BBC News. 6 November 2006. Retrieved 6 August 2009. 
  50. ^ "Ariel Sharon's sons to disconnect their father from life-support system". Pravda.Ru. Retrieved 6 August 2009. 
  51. ^ Sharon's Condition Is Said to Improve, Reuters
  52. ^ No change in Sharon's vegetative state, says his doctor The Jerusalem Post, 27th October 2009.
  53. ^ "Four years on, Sharon still comatose and without a clear legacy" (in English). The Sydney Morning Herald. 6 January 2010. Retrieved 2 May 2010. 

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Political offices
Preceded by
Ehud Barak
Prime Minister of Israel
Succeeded by
Ehud Olmert
Party political offices
Preceded by
Benjamin Netanyahu
Chairman of Likud
Succeeded by
Benjamin Netanyahu
Preceded by
N/A (Founder)
Chairman of Kadima
Succeeded by
Ehud Olmert