Ariel Sharon is one of Israel’s most important military and political figures. He was wounded in the historic 1948 Battle of Latrun during the War of Independence. In the 1950s, he formed an elite commando unit to successfully stop fedayeen terror attacks from the Egyptian border. Slowly rising through the Israel Defense Forces, he eventually became a high-ranking general.
In 1973, Sharon went into politics, being instrumental in forming the Likud party. By 1981, he was appointed defense minister, but was forced to resign the next year after not anticipating what became known as the Sabra and Shatila massacres.
Meanwhile, in other ministerial positions, Sharon helped build most of the Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). When Ehud Barak’s government fell after the failed Camp David talks in 2000, now-Likud leader Sharon won the 2001 election.
A dominant prime minister with a hawkish reputation, he stabilized the country with a national unity government. After a wave of suicide bombings, he ordered a military re-occupation of the West Bank, and the security fence to be built. Sharon also nearly single-handedly pushed through disengagement from the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank, which displaced thousands of Israelis. In early 2006, he fell into and remains in a coma.
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