Hundreds of mourners, including Israeli and world leaders, gathered to bid farewell to Ariel Sharon, former IDF (Zahal) general and former Prime Minister of Israel. The full military funeral was held on Sharon’s family farm in the Negev.
IDF (Zahal) Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, commemorated the former general in a moving eulogy during the course of the service. This is a summary of his words.
“Arik, Commander: you were described by dozens of names and descriptions, but it appears that “Commander’ is the description that best suited you. Here, on the hill where the first flowers of the season will bloom, we can remember in complete clarity the commander you were, despite the many years that passed from when you last wore a military uniform.
I too have come to salute you, as the Chief of the General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, as a combat soldier, as a commander in the Paratroopers Battalion and in the IDF (Zahal). The IDF (Zahal) that followed in your path, long after you no longer had ranks adorning your shoulders.
I have come to tell you, that the military that defends the Jewish people, that was so dear to you, will continue to do so, in your image and with your vision, for many more years.
Pragmatism and boldness, creativity that leads to action, and determination are the guiding principles of commanders and leaders, traits that you embodied and made clear to your soldiers, and traits that should be taught in every school for military leadership.
Maj. Gen. Ariel Sharon, Commander of the 38th Division, during the Six Day War in 1967
In all your years as a commander and leader, these are the values that led you. These are also the traits that, in my view, are required of every commander in the IDF (Zahal). You knew how to choose the best soldiers, the bravest of the brave, the future generation who became the most trusted, celebrated and senior symbols of the IDF (Zahal) – with your sweeping leadership, standing in front of them all.
In a discussion with commanders more than a decade ago, you said: “I remember situations in which everyone around me lost hope, situations that were described as the destruction of the Third Temple. As a commander, in these situations I looked down, not above, into the eyes of the warriors around me. From their eyes I knew we had strength. That we had hope. That we would win.”
These are words that can only be said by a commander who understands the significance of his mission and knows that he has no greater weapon than the people he leads.
Army identity number 38166, Major General Ariel Sharon, warrior, commander and general, in the name of generations of soldiers past, present and future, I salute you. May your memory be blessed.”