Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has died at the age of 85. Sharon had a storied career in the Israeli military, later serving as defense minister and foreign minister. Over the years he garnered the nickname “The Bulldozer.”
Sharon was Israeli prime minister from 2001, and his term was noted for his response to the Second Intifada and for leading the unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005. He suffered a second stroke in 2006 that left him in a permanent coma. A source with knowledge of Sharon’s condition said earlier this month that it is only a “matter of days” if his health continues to worsen, Haaretz reported.
“Many Israelis may fault one or another of Sharon’s political or military decisions,” said World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald S. Lauder in a statement, “but probably no single individual fought harder to safeguard Israel. In a climate of fierce debate, he did what he thought was right for his country, whether it was his brilliant encirclement of Egyptian troops during the Yom Kippur War or the withdrawal from Gaza. His tank maneuvers will be studied as long as there are military colleges. His efforts to house and absorb the nearly one million Russian-speaking Jews who arrived in Israel in the 1990s will forever be appreciated.”
“We are deeply saddened at the loss of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. While he has just passed away, it has truly been eight years since we lost this great statesman and friend. It was a great tragedy on so many levels — both a personal one for him and his family, and a national one for the people of Israel — that Prime Minister Sharon in his final years suffered from the effects of a debilitating stroke that took away the great strength and vitality that was a defining part of his being,” said Anti-Defamation League (ADL) National Chair Barry Curtiss-Lusher and ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman in a statement.