Israel’s eleventh prime minister, Ariel Sharon, passed away yesterday afternoon at the age of 85 at Tel Hashomer hospital (just outside Tel Aviv). He had been in a coma for the past eight years, after suffering a massive stroke.
Sharon fought in three wars before entering politics and served as Israel’s prime minister from 2001-2006. As a paratrooper and then an officer, he held a key role in the 1948 War of Independence, commanding the Israeli army since its inception in 1948. As Minister of Defense, he directed the 1982 Lebanon War.
Senator John Kerry said of Sharon, “We remember his contributions, sacrifices he made to ensure the survival and the well-being of Israel, and I have many personal thoughts about my meetings with him on many different occasions -- always robust and strong and clear about his positions."
The former prime minister was at the height of his power in 2006 when he suffered his stroke, just months after he removed Jewish settlers from 21 Gaza settlements and from four settlements on the West Bank.