As Israel and the Diaspora mourned the loss of Ariel Sharon this week, Israeli leaders shared their own thoughts and remembrances on this strong military leader and past prime minister.
From Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
The State of Israel bows its head on the passing of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. 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 foremost, a courageous fighter and an outstanding general, and was among the IDF’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 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.
Upon leaving the military, he continued to work on behalf of the people of Israel both in his many government roles and as the 11th prime minister of the State of Israel.
His memory will be enshrined forever in the heart of the nation.
From Israeli President Shimon Peres:
Arik was a brave soldier and a daring leader who loved his nation and his nation loved him. He was one of Israel’s great protectors and most important architects, who knew no fear and certainly never feared vision. He knew how to take difficult decisions and implement them. We all loved him and he will be greatly missed. I send my condolences to the Sharon family, may he rest in peace.
From past Prime Minister Ehud Olmert:
Arik was not a warmonger. When it was necessary to fight, he stood at the forefront of the divisions in the most sensitive and painful places, but he was a smart and realistic person and understood well that there is a limit in our ability to conduct wars.”
From IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz:
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.
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.
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. 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 – with your sweeping leadership, standing in front of them all.
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.
From Finance Minister Yair Lapid:
Sharon was one of the most distinguishable of Israeli leaders. A brave soldier and commander in the field, a leader without comparison in the diplomatic and political field, and a dear friend. The State of Israel, which has missed Sharon’s figure for eight years, mourns his death.
From Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon:
Despite the fundamental differences we discovered along the way, I always appreciated his experience and his leadership. Ariel Sharon was first and foremost an outstanding military leader and one of the shapers of the IDF as an army which strives for swift actions against the enemy.
From Justice Minister Tzipi Livni:
Arik Sharon was a farmer, a fighter, and a prime minister who became a father of a nation, but more than anything he was a man I loved. They say veteran soldiers never die – they fade away. Arik faded away eight years ago, and now he has left us for good. We had eight years to say goodbye, and yet we couldn’t. We say goodbye to him now. My deepest condolences to (sons) Omri and Gilad who fought for his life with him and were always by his side.