Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has died from complications associated with a massive stroke he suffered eight years ago. He was 85.
Israeli news reports say Sharon died Saturday at a hospital near Tel Aviv.
He was also known to many for being reckless and brutal. In 1982, he led an invasion of Lebanon that resulted in the massacre, by Lebanese militias, of hundreds of Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut.
Dennis Ross, a former U.S. Middle East negotiator, says the military shaped Sharon.
“He certainly came to believe that the only way peace would be possible would be for Israeli strength to be respected.” he said.
As a politician, Sharon was also controversial. As a cabinet member, he promoted the establishment of Jewish settlements throughout the Palestinian territories.
Palestinian scholar Shukri Abed says this won him further hatred among Arabs.
“To say the least, not trusted, and probably hated by many of them, because of his strong positions, because he was an advocate of building settlements,” Abed said. “He was the father of building settlements.”
While Sharon is remembered as a tough leader who spared no action to defend his people, he was also one who could take difficult steps.
In 2005, he oversaw Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, pulling Israeli settlers and soldiers out of the enclave in the hopes of achieving peace with the Palestinians.
“The relocation of the settlements will be in order to draw an efficient security line that will create a disengagement line between Israel and the Palestinians,” Sharon said at the time.
Sharon dedicated his life to building a strong Israel. His efforts to bring peace remain a work in progress.