The Israeli Air Force salutes the work and legacy of former Prime Minister, the late Major General (res.) Ariel Sharon, who passed away yesterday at Sheba Medical center in Tel Hashomer. Over the years, Sharon worked tirelessly for the security of the country and served in key positions in the army and the government. May he rest in peace
Yesterday afternoon, Former Prime Minister, Ariel (Arik) Sharon passed away. During his lifetime, Sharon served in key positions in the army and the government, including Southern Command Commander, Minister of Defense, Foreign Minister, and Prime Minister.
Sharon began his military career in 1945, at age 17, when he drafted into the “Haganah”. During the War of Independence, Sharon served as commander of Alexandroni Brigade and was severely injured in the Battle of Latrun. With the establishment of the IDF, he commanded the commando unit, the Alexandroni Brigade, and then transferred to command the Golani Commando Unit. In 1953, Sharon founded the 101 Unit, whose purpose was to act against the Fedayeen.
In 1957, during the Suez Crisis, Sharon commanded the Paratrooper Brigade. Under his leadership, an airdrop of 890 soldiers carried out by the IAF’s Dakota planes towards the Mitla Pass in the Sinai Peninsula. Squadron Commander, Major Yaakov Avisar was the leader of the flying formation, alongside co-pilot, First Lieutenant Yael Finkelstein (Rum); navigator, First Lieutenant Eyal Ahikar (Lus); and radio operator, Sergeant Major Arieh Alon.
During the Six Day War, Sharon commanded the 38th Division, which was deployed to the southern front of the war. During the fighting, a battle broke out in Uhm Katef, in which IDF forces were airdropped behind enemy lines in order to paralyze the enemy’s artillery and capture their compound in Uhm Katef. In five rounds, dozens of helicopters flew some 500 paratroopers and the operation was deemed a success and is studied to this day at military academies around the world.
In 1973, before the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War, Sharon mobilized the “Pillar of Fire” reservist unit. During the war itself, Sharon commanded the Division in the central front of the war, in which, during the fighting, he crossed the Suez Canal in Operation Abiray-Lev.
With Sharon’s retirement from military life, he moved onto politics, in which he served in many key positions. Initially, he joined Mapai and later he went onto lead the “Likud” party. In 2001, he was elected prime minister. In 2005, he met with the leaders of the flyover above Auschwitz and with IAF veterans who survived the Holocaust. “Your flight over the Auschwitz death camp is a history symbol to the Jewish people. The flight is a warning that Israel with not let such a thing happen [again]”, the then-Prime Minister said to them. “The State of Israel, the Nation of Israel, and I can trust you. You, the IAF, would not let such a thing happen [again] in the world”.
In 2006, Sharon suffered a stroke and remained comatose. Yesterday afternoon, he passed away at the Sheba Medical in Tel Hashomer, at the age of 85. May he rest in peace.