Timeline: life of a divisive figure
A hero to some, a villain to others, here are the key moment’s in Sharon’s life
Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon attends a meeting with the Israeli president Moshe Katsav in Jerusalem in 2005. File Photograph: David Furst/Reuters
February 26th, 1928: Born to Russian immigrants in farming community of Kfar Malal north of Tel Aviv.
1948: Having joined Jewish guerrillas at the age of 14 in war against British rule in Palestine, Sharon serves with distinction in Israel’s war of independence and is severely wounded in battle.
1953: Heads Unit 101, a force carrying out reprisals for Palestinian attacks. After killing of Israeli woman and her two children, Sharon’s troops blow up more than 40 houses in Qibya, a village in the Jordan-ruled West Bank. Sixty-nine Arabs die, about half of them women and children. Sharon says later he thought the houses were empty.
1956: Rebuked after engaging his troops in what commanders regard as unnecessary and unplanned battle with Egyptian forces at Mitla Pass in Sinai Peninsula.
1957: Studies at Staff College in Britain.
1971: Placed in charge of curbing Arab violence in Gaza Strip. More than 100 suspected militants killed and hundreds detained. Attacks by Palestinians go from 34 in June to one in December.
1973: Commands drive by Israeli troops across Suez Canal into Egypt during Mideast war. Daring assault cuts off Egypt’s 3rd Army and helps turn tide in fighting. His head grazed by bullet during fighting.
December 1973: Elected to parliament on Likud ticket.
1974: Resigns from Parliament.
1975: Appointed by prime minister Yitzhak Rabin as an adviser on security affairs.
1977: Likud wins election and is joined by Sharon, who has been elected to parliament on separate ticket.
1977-81: As Menachem Begin’s agriculture minister, begins push to build dozens of Jewish settlements in West Bank and Gaza Strip, despite Palestinian and international protest. Settlements are one of most contentious issues in current peace negotiations.
April 25th, 1982: As defence minister, overrides resistance from Jewish settlers in Yamit settlement during Israeli withdrawal from Sinai Peninsula, and has their homes bulldozed to rubble.
June 6th, 1982: Engineers Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, portraying it as quick, limited strike to drive Palestinian fighters from Israel’s northern border. But Israeli troops advance to outskirts of Beirut and war escalates. Fighting continues in southern Lebanon until Israel withdraws in 2000.
September 16th-18th, 1982: Loses job as defence minister after Israeli-allied Christian militia kills hundreds of Palestinians at refugee camps in west Beirut, sparking international outrage.
1986: Sharon wins libel suit against Time Magazine in US, where a jury finds the magazine made a factual error in claiming a secret Israeli report said Sharon had discussed revenge with Lebanese officials before the massacre. But the jury says Time is not liable for monetary damages.
1997: An Israeli court dismisses another libel suit filed by Sharon against an Israeli journalist who wrote that Sharon had deceived former prime minister Menachem Begin in leading the country to war. An appeal is also rejected.
September 28th, 2000: As opposition leader, Sharon visits Jerusalem’s Temple Mount to emphasise Israel’s claim of sovereignty. Muslims, who call site the Noble Sanctuary, erupt in violence. Palestinians say Sharon’s visit triggered resumption of uprising, while his supporters contend violence was already planned by Palestinians.
February 6th, 2001: In midst of political crisis, wins landslide victory over premier Ehud Barak in election for prime minister.
2003: Wins early elections and remains prime minister. Later starts construction of Israel’s separation barrier in West Bank in response to wave of Palestinian suicide bombings.
February 8th, 2005: Announces, with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, cease-fire in Palestinian uprising.
August 17th, 2005: Begins unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and small part of West Bank, after reversing decades of support for Jewish settlement construction and expansion.
November 2005: Amid growing dissent within Likud over Gaza withdrawal, leaves party with many key allies to found centrist Kadima with eye on elections set for following March 28th.
December 18th, 2005: Suffers mild stroke, leaves hospital two days later.
January 4th, 2006: On eve of scheduled heart procedure, suffers massive stroke and falls into coma.
May 28th, 2006: Sharon, still in a coma, is transferred from Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem to a long-term-care facility at Tel Aviv’s Chaim Sheba Medical Centre.
August 14th, 2006: Doctors announce that his condition has greatly deteriorated.
November 12th, 2010: Sharon is moved to his ranch in southern Israel. But days later, he is returned to Sheba.
October 25th, 2011: One of Sharon’s sons says his father can move his eyes and fingers when spoken to.
January 27th, 2013: Medical experts say new tests show significant brain activity by Sharon, but say he remains in a deep coma.
January 11th, 2013: Dies at the age of 85.