He was born on September 27, 1928, in Kfar Malal, as Ariel
Scheinerman. Sharon is a widower and father of three sons,
Omri and Gilad and Gur, who was killed in a shooting
accident at age 11. His first wife, Margalit, was killed in
a car accident. His second wife, Lily, died last year.
Sharon majored in history and Middle Eastern studies at
Hebrew University in Jerusalem (1953), and holds a law
degree from Tel Aviv University.
The prime minister-elect lives on a Negev ranch known as
Havat Hashikmim. He also owns a house in the Muslim Quarter
of Jerusalem's Old City.
The young (17 years old) Sharon joined the Haganah in 1945
and served in the Jewish settlements' guard force. During
the War of Independence, Sharon was a platoon commander in
the Alexandroni Brigade and was wounded in the battle for
In 1952, while in school, Sharon was placed at the head of
Unit 101, that was established to carry out retaliatory
raids against the fedayeen (Arab terrorist squads that
mounted cross-border attacks into Israel). In 1954, Sharon
commanded an infamous retaliatory raid on the village of
Qibya, in the course of which civilian homes were bombed
with their inhabitants still inside.
He was promoted to major-general in 1966 and made head of
the Israel Defense Forces' Training Department.
In 1969, Sharon was appointed head of the Southern Command.
He resigned from the IDF in 1973 to run for Knesset, but
when the Yom Kippur War broke out that year, he was recalled
to service as commander of an armored division. He led the
IDF's crossing of the Suez Canal while in open conflict with
his superior officers.
He was first elected to the Knesset in 1974 in Likud, but he
resigned after one year. From June 1975 to March 1976 he
served as a special advisor to Prime Minister Yitzhak
Before the next Knesset elections, he established his own
party, Shlomzion, and won two seats. Shlomzion later merged
with Herut as part of the Likud.
In Menachem Begin's first government, Sharon was given the
agriculture portfolio and he also chaired the ministerial
committee for settlement affairs. In this capacity, he
oversaw the establishment of new Jewish settlements in the
West Bank and Gaza. He became minister of defense in the
In January 1982, at Sharon's request, the IDF General Staff
finished preparing "Operation Oranim," which was carried out
in June of that year as part of the "Peace for Galilee" War.
The goals of Operation Oranim, according to Sharon, were to
end the terrorist attacks on Israel's northern settlements,
to bring political and military ruin to the terrorists in
Beirut, to establish a legal Lebanese government that would
sign a peace treaty with Israel, and to drive the Syrians
away from the Beirut area.
On September 16, 1982, the day after Lebanese President
Bashir Jemayel was assassinated, Sharon allowed the
Christian Phalangists to enter the refugee camps of Sabra
and Chatila to search for terrorists. The Christians
massacred the Moslem refugees in the context of the long-
running conflict in Lebanon which had a history of
atrocities on both sides. The massacre led to the
establishment of state commission of inquiry headed by
Supreme Court President Yitzhak Kahan, as a result of a
public outcry led by the Israeli Left, including Shimon
The Kahan Commission found that Sharon did not do enough to
prevent the killings that were carried out in the camps by
the Christian militiamen. He was forced to resign as defense
minister and became a minister without a portfolio.
A New York court later ruled in favor of Sharon in a libel
suit he had brought against Time magazine for
claiming that he had encouraged the Jemayel family to take
revenge on the Palestinians.
In April 1982, Sharon led the IDF operation evacuating
Rafiah, scheduled to be handed over to Egypt. Sharon ordered
that the buildings of Yamit be razed, saying the Egyptians
would fill them with security personnel disguised as
In the Twelfth Knesset, Sharon served as minister of
industry and trade, and later as minister of construction
The next time the Likud elected a new chairman, in February
1993, Sharon chose not to run against Benjamin Netanyahu.
After Netanyahu's defeat in the 1999 elections, Sharon was
elected Likud chairman, over Ehud Olmert and Meir