It is hard to figure how the Israeli public will mourn a figure as divisive as was Ariel Sharon. For many, there seems a divine justice in the fact that this fighting lion of a man went out with a whimper and not with a bang as he would have undoubtedly preferred. For others, the finality of his death marks the passage of a generation of leaders.
There is some poetry in the fact that a national park has already been named after Sharon, who was an avid supporter of the project. It’s centerpiece is a recycling center located on the site of the former Hiriya garbage dump; yesterday’s refuse has being turned into a green open space and a symbol of renewal. A fitting tribute to a boy — and future rancher — from the pioneering farming community of Kfar Malal.
Ariel Sharon age 14, 2nd from right. Photo via Pikiwiki – Free Image collection of Israel
But for better or worse, it is Sharon the warrior that people will remember. A search through the IDF Archive has turned up some interesting images of Sharon in times of war, starting with his days as commander of special forces Unit 101 in Operation Kadesh in 1956. (Sharon is seated left, holding a map).
Out in the battlefield with his men, sharing a hot drink from the communal messting…
Sitting in a jeep during the Six Day War with a young soldier who would eventually be seated opposite to Sharon on the political spectrum: Yael Dayan, daughter of Israeli Chief of Staff, Major General Moshe Dayan.
During the Yom Kippur War with Moshe Dayan.
The IDF Archive has no photos of Sharon who was Minister of Defense during the 1982 Lebanon War as he had already left the military. His political career is well-documented in the State of Israel National Photo Collection where some early images include one from 1978 while serving as Minister of Agriculture and one from 1981 of Sharon reading his declaration of allegiance to the Begin government while being sworn in as Minister of Defense.
Photos by Yaacov Sa’ar (left) and Chanania Herman (right)