On January 11, 2014, Ariel Sharon, former Prime Minister of Israel, passed away at the age of 85. He was not only a famous politician, but also a great commander in the IDF (Zahal) whose leadership changed the course of history.
Today, commanders, politicians and people from all around the country gather to pay their final respects to one of Israel’s greatest military heroes.
Here are some of their moving words from the past few days and from throughout the years.
“Sharon has played an integral role in the IDF (Zahal)’s and the State of Israel’s legacy throughout the years. Arik will forever serve as an example for generations of soldiers and commanders to come. The IDF (Zahal) will continue to follow his legacy in operating towards defending the State of Israel.”
– IDF (Zahal) Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz
“Ariel Sharon played a central role in the struggle for the security of the state of Israel over all its years. He was, first and formost, a couragous fighter and an outstanding general, and was among the IDF (Zahal)’s greatest commanders. From his youth, he served the people of Israel on the battlefield. He did so as a soldier in the War of Independence, a commander in the 1956 Sinai Campaign and the Six Day War, and up to his decisive role in the battle over the Suez Canal that led to the turning point in the Yom Kippur War. He established Unit 101 and took the initiative in the war against terrorism, which became a central pillar of the State of Israel.”
– Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu
“The description I heard of you sounded more like a song than a biography. I was told that you are smart and brave, unconventional and bold. I was told of your capacity for leadership and your great determination. A fearless soldier, and a man with vision.”
– Israel President Shimon Peres
Ariel Sharon in 1973 Yom Kippur War
“His leadership was inspiring. His voice gave the soldiers great confidence. We were convinced that we would be victorious as a result of his unequivocal commands. We admired him for it.”
– Major General (res.) Ya’akov Even, former Chief of the National Defence College. Ariel Sharon’s deputy commander in the Yom Kippur War.
“From the position of a battalion commander he set the IDF (Zahal)’s policy, and sometimes even the whole State of Israel’s security policy. He dictated norms and values that changed the IDF (Zahal)’s battle methods.”
– Major General (res.) Uri Simchoni, former Chief of the Infantry and Paratroops Corps. Ariel Sharon was his commander during the 1948 War of Independence.
President Peres lays wreath next to Sharon’s coffin: “May your memory, Arik, be blessed.”
Quotes from IDF (Zahal) Chief of the General Staff, Lt. General Benny Gantz, during Ariel Sharon’s funeral:
Ariel Sharon was a key figure in Israel’s history over the years. He believed in setting a personal example and was always willing to fight for what he believed in. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.