By Jueseppi B.
Statement by the President on the Passing of Ariel Sharon
On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I send our 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. We reaffirm our unshakable commitment to Israel’s security and our appreciation for the enduring friendship between our two countries and our two peoples.
We continue to strive for lasting peace and security for the people of Israel, including through our commitment to the goal of two states living side-by-side in peace and security. As Israel says goodbye to Prime Minister Sharon, we join with the Israeli people in honoring his commitment to his country.
Ariel Sharon, former Israeli Prime Minister, dead at 85
Tribune wire reports:
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the trailblazing warrior-statesman who transformed the region and was reviled by Arab foes over generations of conflict, died on Saturday at 85 eight years after suffering a massive stroke.
Sharon left major historical footprints on the Middle East through military invasion, Jewish settlement-building on occupied land the Palestinians seek for a state but also a shock, unilateral decision to withdraw from the Gaza Strip.
He died at Sheba Medical Center, near Tel Aviv, where he has been in a coma since being hit by a stroke at the pinnacle of his power as prime minister in January 2006. Doctors there had reported a precipitous decline in his condition last week.
“Arik was a valorous soldier and a bold statesman who contributed much to the security and building up of the State of Israel,” said President Shimon Peres, a former political ally of Sharon and, with the ex-premier’s death, the last of the Jewish state’s founders still in public life.
“Arik loved his people, and his people loved him,” Peres said, using the nickname of the famously burly and blunt Sharon with a distinctive rolling prizefighter’s gait. “He knew no fear and never feared pursuing a vision.”
President Barack Obama said on Saturday he joined Israelis in honoring the late Ariel Sharon’s commitment to Israel and he affirmed traditional U.S. support for Israel’s security.
In a statement, Obama said he and his wife, Michelle, send their deepest condolences to Sharon’s family and to Israelis on “the loss of a leader who dedicated his life to the state of Israel”.
“We reaffirm our unshakable commitment to Israel’s security and our appreciation for the enduring friendship between our two countries and our two peoples,” said Obama.
He also said the United States continues to strive for lasting peace and security for Israelis “including through our commitment to the goal of two states living side-by-side in peace and security”.
“As Israel says goodbye to Prime Minister Sharon, we join with the Israeli people in honoring his commitment to his country,” Obama said.
Officials said Sharon, who took power in 2001 soon after the start of a second Palestinian uprising that raged until 2005, would be buried in a state funeral to which foreign dignitaries would be invited.
Thank you Tribune wire.
Ariel Sharon, Ariʼēl Sharōn, born Ariel Scheinermann, February 1928 – 11 January 2014) was an Israeli statesman and general, who served as the 11th Prime Minister of Israel until he was incapacitated by a stroke.
Sharon was a commander in the Israeli Army from its inception in 1948. As a paratrooper and then an officer, he participated prominently in the 1948 War of Independence, becoming a platoon commander in the Alexandroni Brigade and taking part in many battles, including Operation Ben Nun Alef. He was an instrumental figure in the creation of Unit 101, and the Retribution operations, as well as in the 1956 Suez Crisis, the Six-Day War of 1967, the War of Attrition, and the Yom-Kippur War of 1973. As Minister of Defense, he directed the 1982 Lebanon War.
During his military career, he was considered the greatest field commander in Israel’s history, and one of the country’s greatest ever military strategists. After his assault of the Sinai in the Six-Day War and his encirclement of the Egyptian Third Army in the Yom Kippur War, the Israeli public nicknamed him “The King of Israel” and “The Lion of God”.
After retiring from the army, Sharon joined the Likud party, and served in a number of ministerial posts in Likud-led governments in 1977–92 and 1996–99. He became the leader of the Likud in 2000, and served as Israel’s Prime Minister from 2001 to 2006. In 1983 the Kahan Commission, established by the Israeli Government, found that as Minister of Defense during the 1982 Lebanon War Sharon bore “personal responsibility” for the massacre by Lebanese militias of Palestinian civilians in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila, for his having disregarded the prospect of acts of bloodshed by the Phalangists against the population of the refugee camps, and not having prevented their entry.
The Kahan Commission recommended Sharon’s removal as Defense Minister, and Sharon did resign after initially refusing to do so. In the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, Sharon championed construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. However, as Prime Minister, in 2004–05 Sharon orchestrated Israel’s unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip. Facing stiff opposition to this policy within the Likud, in November 2005 he left Likud to form a new Kadima party. He had been expected to win the next election and was widely interpreted as planning on “clearing Israel out of most of the West Bank”, in a series of unilateral withdrawals. However, Sharon suffered a stroke on 4 January 2006 and was left in a permanent vegetative state until his death eight years later.
He passed away on 11th January 2014, two weeks after his condition took a dramatic turn for the worst.
Incapacitation, coma and death
Sharon suffered from obesity from the 1980s and also had suspected chronic high blood pressure and high cholesterol – at 170 cm (5 ft 7 in) tall, he was reputed to weigh 115 kg (250 lb). His staff car would reportedly be stocked with snacks, vodka and caviar. Stories of Sharon’s appetite and obesity were legendary in Israel. He would often joke about his love of food and expansive girth. In October 2004 when asked why he did not wear a bulletproof vest despite frequent death threats, Sharon smiled and replied, “There is none that fits my size”. He was a daily consumer of cigars and luxury foods. Numerous attempts by doctors, friends and staff to impose a balanced diet on Sharon were without avail.
Sharon was hospitalized on 18 December 2005, after suffering a minor ischemic stroke. During his hospital stay, doctors discovered a heart defect requiring surgery and ordered bed rest pending a cardiac catheterization scheduled for 5 January 2006. Instead, Sharon returned immediately to work and suffered a hemorrhagic stroke on 4 January, the day before surgery. After two surgeries lasting 7 and 14 hours, doctors stopped the bleeding in Sharon’s brain, but were unable to prevent him from entering into a coma. Subsequent media reports indicated that Sharon had been diagnosed with cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA) during his December hospitalisation. Hadassah Hospital Director Shlomo Mor-Yosef declined to respond to comments that the combination of CAA and blood thinners after Sharon’s December stroke may have caused his more serious subsequent stroke.
Ehud Olmert became Acting Prime Minister the night of Sharon’s second stroke, while Sharon was only officially in office. Knesset elections followed in March, with Olmert and Sharon’s Kadima party winning a plurality. The next month, the Israeli Cabinet declared Sharon permanently incapacitated and Olmert officially became Interim Prime Minister in office on 14 April 2006 until his new established government made him Prime Minister in his own right on 4 May.
Sharon underwent a series of subsequent surgeries related to his state. He remained in a long-term care facility from 6 November 2006 until the time of his death. Medical experts indicated that his cognitive abilities had likely been destroyed by the stroke His condition worsened from late 2013, and Sharon suffered from renal failure on 1 January 2014. After eight years in a coma, Sharon died at 2 pm Israeli time on 11 January 2014 at the age of 85.
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