News / Middle East

    Dignitaries Praise Ariel Sharon at Funeral

    The convoy with the body of former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon's arrives at the grave site where his second wife Lily is buried, on Jan. 13, 2014 at the family ranch Havat Shikmin, near the Israeli city of Sderot in the southern Negev desert.
    The convoy with the body of former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon's arrives at the grave site where his second wife Lily is buried, on Jan. 13, 2014 at the family ranch Havat Shikmin, near the Israeli city of Sderot in the southern Negev desert.
    Scott Bobb
    Israel's former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has been buried at his home in the Negev before family, friends and a delegation of visiting dignitaries, following civilian and military services.

    He was praised earlier in the day during a memorial service at the Knesset - the Israeli parliament - by Israeli and foreign dignitaries.

    Israel's president, Shimon Peres, called him an exceptional soldier who knew how to win.
     
    Peres said rest, great leader, who did not allow himself to rest when serving his people, defending his country and making its fields blossom.
     
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said although he and Sharon did not always agree when in government together they cooperated for the security and economy of the country.
     
    He added that Sharon was a practical and pragmatic man whose pragmatism was full of deep feelings for his country and the Jewish people.

    • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks near the flag draped coffin of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon during a memorial ceremony at Israel's parliament in Jerusalem, Jan. 13, 2014.
    • Members of the Knesset guard carry the flag draped coffin of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as his family members walk behind during a memorial ceremony at Israel's parliament in Jerusalem, Jan. 13, 2014.
    • Israel's President Shimon Peres carries a wreath to place next to the coffin of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the Israeli Parliament, Jerusalem, Jan. 12, 2014. 
    • Israelis pass by the coffin of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at Knesset Plaza, Jerusalem, Jan. 12, 2014. 
    • Members of the Knesset Guard carry the coffin of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at Knesset Plaza, Jerusalem, Jan. 12, 2014. 
    • A worker prepares the grave for former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at his ranch, Havat Shikmim, in the northern Negev Desert, southern Israel, Jan. 12, 2014. 
    • Members of the Knesset Guard stand near the coffin of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at  Knesset Plaza, Jerusalem, Jan. 12, 2014. 
    • Israelis pay their last respects as they stand near the coffin of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the Knesset, Jerusalem, Jan. 12, 2014. 

     Sharon died Saturday at the age of 85. He had been in a coma for eight years after suffering a stroke while prime minister.
     
    FILE - Ariel Sharon, Israel's then-Prime Minister-elect, touches Judaism's holiest site, the Western Wall, Jerusalem, Feb. 7, 2001.FILE - Ariel Sharon, Israel's then-Prime Minister-elect, touches Judaism's holiest site, the Western Wall, Jerusalem, Feb. 7, 2001.
    x
    FILE - Ariel Sharon, Israel's then-Prime Minister-elect, touches Judaism's holiest site, the Western Wall, Jerusalem, Feb. 7, 2001.
    FILE - Ariel Sharon, Israel's then-Prime Minister-elect, touches Judaism's holiest site, the Western Wall, Jerusalem, Feb. 7, 2001.
    A veteran of four Arab-Israeli wars from 1948 to 1973, he was an independent commander who entered politics after his military career ended.
     
    He was revered by some Israelis and criticized by others. He was generally condemned by Palestinians for his tough military tactics and offensives in which hundreds of Palestinians were killed.
     
    U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said like all real leaders Sharon had a north star that guided him.
     
    "His north star was the survival of the state of Israel and the Jewish people wherever they resided," he said.
     
    Ariel Sharon

    • Born in 1928 in farming community north of Tel Aviv
    • Joined underground Jewish military organization Haganah in 1942
    • Fought as platoon commander in Arab-Israeli war of 1948-49
    • Led Commando Unit 101 that carries out reprisal raids in 1953
    • Led paratroopers in the 1956 Suez War
    • Elected member of parliament in 1973
    • Served as security advisor to then prime minister Yitzhak Rabin
    • Appointed defense minister in 1981
    • Led Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon, resigns after being found responsible for failing to prevent massacres in Palestinian refugee camps
    • Appointed minister of housing and construction in 1990
    • Appointed foreign minister in 1997
    • Elected prime minister in 2001, one year after controversial visit to the Temple Mount
    • Directed the withdrawal of Israeli troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005
    • Established the Kadima party in 2005, new elections set for March 2006
    • Has been in a coma since a massive stroke on Jan. 4, 2006
    Britain's former Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed, saying Sharon never wavered from this strategic objective.
     
    "The state which from the age of 14 he fought to bring into being had to be protected for future generations. When that meant fighting, he fought. When that meant making peace, he sought peace. And the same iron determination he took to the field of war, he took to the chamber of diplomacy," said Blair.
     
    Security was tightened in southern Israel prior to Sharon's burial at his ranch some 10 kilometers east of the Gaza Strip. The anti-rocket defense system, called Iron Dome, was deployed in the area amid reports of rocket firing.
     
    Sharon, while prime minister in 2005, ordered an Israeli military operation in Gaza in which more than 1,000 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed.
     
    He subsequently ordered the unilateral withdrawal of Israeli soldiers and settlers from Gaza.
     
    A long-time member of the conservative Likud party, he broke away to form the centrist Kadima party the same year. He called elections for March 2006 but suffered the stroke two months before they were held.

    You May Like

    US Watching as North Korea Opens Biggest Political Meeting in Decades

    As Workers' Party Congress opens, Washington anticipating possibility of another missile launch or nuclear test as top officials gather

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: David Storrs from: australia
    January 13, 2014 7:18 PM
    you only have to look at the list of dignitaries at Ariel Sharon's funeral compared to Nelson Mandela's memorial to see we do lndeed value peacemakers more.Some people in Israel bemoan the American president being there but I personally noticed where Richard Branson,Oprah Winfrey and U2's Bono were keen to be

    by: JR from: BR
    January 13, 2014 6:35 PM
    Now he will know if he is rigth or not to kill so many Palestinians, for him is the great moment, all the cards are on the table. Good lucky for him, I think he will need.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora