Ariel Sharon - born 26 February 1928, died 11 January 2013, former Israeli Prime Minister, Minister for Defence, military commander. He was 85.
World leaders are eulogising former Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon who died a few hours ago. Some are cautious in their words, such as President Barack Obama sending his 'deepest condolences to the family of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and to the people of Israel on the loss of a leader who dedicated his life to the State of Israel'. Nothing about Sharon being a great leader, but it is true that he dedicated his life to Israel ... at the expense of Palestinian lives. Current US Secretary of State, John Kerry said that '... he sought to bend the course of history towards peace'. British Prime Minister David Cameron stated, ' ... he took brave and controversial decisions in pursuit of peace ...'. (1)
There was nothing brave or peaceful about Sharon's massacres of innocent civilians.
Australia's Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, laid a wreath at the grave of Ariel Sharon, prompting a response from the Australian Jewish Democratic Society informing her of their concern over her support for breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the racist policies of Israel. (2)
In 2003, then President George W. Bush referred to him as a 'man of peace'. However, in 1982, President Reagan's special envoy, Ambassador Philip Habib stated, 'Sharon was a killer obsessed with hatred of Palestinians. I had promised Arafat that his people would not get any harm. Sharon, however, ignored this commitment entirely. Sharon's word is worth nil'. (3)
The eulogies for Sharon should not be honouring the man, but ensuring his crimes against humanity are remembered and his victims are not forgotten.
With the founding of Israel in 1948, Sharon was a paratrooper in the new state's Army, and later commander. His initiation was during the so-called 'War of Independence', when a number of neighbouring Arab states attempted to repel the military forces of the newly created state of Israel that were violently forcing Palestinians from their homes, killing those who resisted. It was a war of self-defence for the Arabs against a European invasion.
In August 1953, on orders from Prime Minister Ben-Gurion, Sharon founded Unit 101, a Special Forces unit. Within one month of its founding, a Unit 101 patrol attacked civilians in Gaza, killing dozens of Palestinians. Two months later Unit 101 attacked civilians in the village of Qibya, in the West Bank, murdering 69 civilians and destroying 45 buildings, a school and a mosque. Three-quarters of the victims were women and children. Both attacks attracted international condemnation. Israel initially denied the attack and tried to blame others for it, however, was finally forced to admit that Unit 101 was responsible. Unit 101 was also responsible for other attacks on civilians, including Bedouins. The Unit committed crimes against humanity but was never held responsible. (4)
1956 Suez Canal invasion
In 1956, Israel attacked Egypt in order to gain control of the Suez Canal. It also gained the Sinai. Being a war, meant that there were prisoners, and Israel had captured hundreds of Egyptian soldiers. Sharon was in charge of units that murdered 273 Egyptian prisoners of war, which is a violation of the Geneva Convention. It was a war-crime. (5)
Pacification of Gaza
The so-called 'Pacification of Gaza' should have been called the 'Ethnic Cleansing of Gaza'. In 1971, Sharon led military operations into Gaza which were responsible for thinning out the population. It was ethnic cleansing. Israel massacred hundreds of civilians, blew up houses, hospitals, schools and forcibly relocated more than 13,000 civilians to the Sinai. (6)
Over the subsequent years, Israeli forces under Sharon's command continued their brutal occupation and attacks on civilians. Whenever Palestinians fought back, Israel would respond with excessive violence. In 1982, while Sharon was Minister of Defence, Israel attacked Lebanon, bombing refugee camps for weeks, killing an untold number of people, destroying hospitals, orphanages and schools. This campaign resulted in 125,000 people fleeing for their lives.
Sharon accused Palestinian 'terrorists' of murdering Lebanese leader Bashir Gemayel. It was later proven that the attack was carried about my a Lebanese Maronite Christian. Nonetheless, Sharon unleashed Lebanese Christian Phalangists into the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in an horrific campaign of terror in which more than 2,000 refugees, including women, children and babies were raped and murdered over the following three days. English journalist, Robert Fisk visited Shatila only days after the massacre, during which he was stepping over the corpses of 'raped and eviscerated women and their husbands and children ... ' (7)
Following international condemnation, a commission of inquiry was established and Ariel Sharon held personally responsible because he knew the massacre was occurring and he allowed it to continue. His troops stood idly by, watching the massacre unfold. Sharon was dismissed as Minister of Defence, but was not charged. In fact, he continued to serve in the Knesset. In September 1984, he was appointed as the Minister for Industry, Trade and Labor. Later he became the Minister for Housing and Construction, Minister for Energy and Water Resources, and Minister for Foreign Affairs. In 2001, Sharon was elected Prime Minister.
For more on the Sabra and Shatila massacre, refer to:
Sharon sponsored the establishment of hundreds of illegal Israeli settlements in Gaza and the West Bank. These settlements were in violation of international law and were often established at the point of a gun with the use of Israeli military to violently drive Palestinians out of their homes and off their lands. These were homes and lands that the Palestinians held deeds of ownership for.
In 2004, Sharon ordered settlements be withdrawn from Gaza. His supporters claimed that this showed he was a man of peace. However, military attacks on Gaza increased and often involved military jets firing on and bombing the civilian population. Israel has used chemical weapons such as white phosphorous, and nuclear warheads containing depleted uranium, in Gaza. These are war-crimes being unleashed on a civilian and undefended population.
Removing the settlers from Gaza, meant that Israel could literally imprison Gaza and control the movement of people into and out of it, as well as control supplies going into it. The military often stops deliveries of food, clothing, building products and so on, that are being legitimately delivered through either road or sea networks. Much was made of secret tunnels from Gaza into Egypt, however, these tunnels were necessary in order to ensure that Gazans received necessities that Israel denied them. Gaza has been described as the world's largest open-air prison.
Although settlements were withdrawn from Gaza, establishment of settlements in the West Bank increased and now there are more than 500,000 settlers illegally occupying the territory. Numerous UN resolutions, including resolution 22/29 adopted by the UN Human Rights Council on 22 March 2013, declares the illegality of the settlements and that Israel is an 'occupying Power' breaching the Fourth Geneva Convention by transferring 'parts of its civilian population into the territory it occupies ...' (8). This resolution was in response to a UN fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of Israeli settlements on the rights of the Palestinian people. The fact-finding mission details the history of the illegal settlements, including Ariel Sharon's decades-long involvement in their expansion. (9)
Agence France Presse reported on 15 November 1998, that while addressing the extreme right-wing Tsomet Party, Sharon stated, 'Everybody has to move, run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge the settlements because everything we take now will stay ours ... Everything we don't grab will go to them'. (10)
Sharon encouraged Jews from across the globe to move to Israel. To house them annexing Palestinian land and establishing the illegal settlements. 'As long as I'm needed. I'll be ready to serve. I look forward with optimism. We need the Jews here. Move to Israel! Move to Israel!' (11)
Operation Defensive Shield
In 2001, Sharon controversially entered the Al-Aqsa mosque surrounded by Israeli soldiers. It was seen as an insult to the Palestinians and resulted in the Second Intifada, in which some Palestinians undertook a wave of attacks against Israel. The following year, Sharon launched Operation Defensive Shield, in which soldiers attacked the West Bank supposedly to end the Intifada. The Army attacked with assault helicopters and commandos, resulting in the deaths of at least 20 civilians and a number of militants. (12)
Following Defensive Shield, Sharon ordered the construction of a 'security' wall which would engulf the West Bank. Sharon claimed the wall was to stop Palestinian terrorists travelling into Israel, however the bulk of the wall separates areas within the West Bank from each other, not from Israel. This has created 'Bantustans', or small enclaves, and hindered Palestinian ability to travel between each area. People have difficulty getting to their jobs, visiting hospitals and attending schools. The Wall has been declared illegal by the International Court of Justice. (13)
Israel has been the recipient of, and breached, over 200 UN resolutions (14), relating to:
- annexation of parts of Jerusalem
- establishment of Jewish settlements on Palestinian land, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention
- annexation of the Golan Heights
- deportation of Palestinians
- destruction of Palestinian houses and when the houses are rebuilt, destroying them again
- denying building materials, food and water to Palestinians.
His supporters claim that as Prime Minister, Sharon was constantly offering olive-branches to the Palestinians who refused peace. The truth is that Sharon did offer peace, however, it was on conditions that cost Palestinians more than it was worth and all the while Israel continued ethnic cleansing by either killing or driving out Arabs, stealing their land and moving settlers in illegally.
Sharon was not a man to be trusted. His entire life testified to his commitment to destroy Palestine. Sharon is not a man to be revered. He was personally responsible for ethnic cleansing of Gaza and the West Bank through military operations and the establishment of settlements on land stolen from Palestine. He was personally responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians through military operations he participated in or directed.
Sharon's actions were criminal, yet he was never charged. One of the reasons that Israel and the USA opposed the admission of Palestine to the United Nations was that it could pave the way for Palestine to bring charges against Israel in the International Criminal Court for genocide, war-crimes and crimes against humanity. Sharon once declared, 'Israel may have the right to put others on trial, but certainly no one has the right to put the Jewish people and the State of Israel on trial'. (15)
Sharon's actions must never be forgotten.
He was not a man of peace.
Ariel Sharon was the Butcher of Beirut ... and of Palestine.
1. Guardian.com, 11 January 2014, Ariel Sharon death: reaction from around the world,
3. Greens/Green Party USA, Resolution on Divestment of State Funds from Israel, Winter 2003, http://www.greens.org/s-r/30/30-05.html
4. David Blair, Why does Ariel Sharon matter, 11 January 2014. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/israel/10547694/Why-does-Ariel-Sharon-matter.html
5. Jeffrey Steinberg, Ariel Sharon: Profile of an unrepentant war criminal, http://www.larouchepub.com/pr/site_packages/2002/sharon/020430sharon_crime_hist.html
6. Edward W. Said, How Great Were the Injustices of Arabs to Jews; 'Pacification' of Gaza, 28 January 1988, http://www.nytimes.com/1988/02/05/opinion/l-how-great-were-the-injustices-of-arabs-to-jews-pacification-of-gaza-160288.html
7. Robert Fisk, Ariel Sharon', 6 January 2006,
8. United Nations Human Rights Council resolution 22/29, Follow-up to the report of the independent international fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, A/HRC/RES/22/29, 15 April 2013.
9.Human Rights Council, Twenty-second session, Agenda item 7, Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories, Report of the independent international fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.
10. Joe Quinn, Peace In the Middle East? - Over the bodies of 3 million Palestinians, 17 December 2010, http://www.sott.net/article/124417-Peace-In-the-Middle-East-Over-the-bodies-of-3-million-Palestinians
11. Time World, Interview: Ariel Sharon, 14 May 2005,
12. Human Rights Watch, Jenin, 2 May 2002, http://www.hrw.org/node/79081/section/1.
13. BBN News, UN rules against Israeli barrier, 9 July 2004,
14. The UN resolutions are available online.
- For resolutions accepted by the UN Human Rights Council refer to: http://unispal.un.org/unispal.nsf/vCHRRes?OpenView&Start=1&Count=150&Expand=1#1
- For resolutions accepted by the UN Economic and Social Committee: http://unispal.un.org/unispal.nsf/vECOSOCRes?OpenView
- For resolutions accepted by the UN Security Council: http://unispal.un.org/unispal.nsf/vCouncilRes?OpenView
- For resolutions accepted by the UN General Assembly: http://unispal.un.org/unispal.nsf/vGARes?OpenView
Note, that this article was updated on 18 January 2014 to include Julie Bishop's visit to Ariel Sharon's grave and the letter sent to her from the Australian Jewish Democratic Society.