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Israel’s Ariel Sharon Dead After Eight Year Coma

Posted on Jan 11, 2014 (CC BY 2.0)

Former Israeli Army general and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon died Saturday at age 85 after multiple organ failure, eight years after a massive stroke put him in a vegetative state.

The Guardian reports:

for many Israelis he will be mourned as a giant figure who played a key role in shaping Israel both as a soldier and a statesman. His passing severs the last link to the iconic generation which fought in the 1948 war that followed the declaration of the state. His reputation as a fearless – and controversial - soldier was matched by his uncompromising ideology as a politician.

Among Palestinians and leftwing Israelis, he will be remembered as a powerful and reviled champion of Israel’s colonial settlement project, and the political force behind the construction of the vast concrete and steel separation barrier that snakes through the West Bank. Many will not forgive his role in the killing of hundreds of Palestinians in refugee camps in Beirut in the 1980s.

… Sharon – known as “Arik” to his friends, “the Bulldozer” to his critics – was a giant figure, both literally and metaphorically, in Israel. He was accused of war crimes after between 800 and 2,000 Palestinians were butchered at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in 1982 in Lebanon by Phalangist Christians while Israeli forces stood by. Sharon was defence minister at the time.

But his reputation as a belligerent and uncompromising rightwinger was challenged in the period immediately preceding his stroke by his astonishing decision to withdraw Israeli forces and settlers from the Gaza Strip, and his determination to carry out the evacuation in the face of virulent opposition and accusations of betrayal.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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