OFFICIAL BIOGRAPHY FROM THE ISRAELI MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS:
With annotations from The
Electronic Intifada in gray boxes.
Ariel Sharon was born in
Kfar Malal in 1928.
He joined the Haganah at the age of
14. During the 1948 War of Independence, he commanded an infantry
company in the Alexandroni Brigade.
In 1953, he
founded and led the "101" special commando unit which
carried out retaliatory operations.
The Electronic Intifada notes: As commander of the notorious
Unit 101, Sharon led attacks on Palestinian villages in which
women and children were killed.
The massacre in the West
Bank village of Qibya, on October 14, 1953, was perhaps the most
notorious. His troops blew up 45 houses and 69 Palestinian
civilians -- about half of them women and children -- were killed.
The U.S. Department of State issued a statement on 18
October 1953, expressing its "deepest sympathy for the
families of those who lost their lives" in the Qibya attack
as well as the conviction that those responsible "should be
brought to account and that effective measures should be taken to
prevent such incidents in the future." (Department of
State Bulletin, Oct. 26, 1953, p. 552).
Sharon was appointed
commander of a paratroop brigade in 1956 and fought in the Sinai
The Electronic Intifada notes: On 16 August, 1995, Ohad Gozani
in Tel Aviv, writing for The Daily Telegraph, in an article
entitled, "Israelis Admit Massacre", reported:
of how Israeli paratroopers killed about 270 Egyptian prisoners of
war 40 years ago are straining relations between the two
countries. Egypt has demanded an investigation into the alleged
atrocities, which date back to Israel's involvement in the 1956
Anglo-French campaign to take the Suez Canal.
were revealed in a paper on the Sinai campaign commissioned by the
army's military history division. They were described in graphic
detail in newspaper and television interviews.In all, 273
Egyptians, some of them Sudanese civilian road workers, were
killed in three separate incidents, according to the accounts.
Arye Biro, a retired army general, admitted shooting the
Sudanese at a quarry two days into the campaign at strategic Mitla
Pass in central Sinai. Mr. Biro, then a company leader in the 890
Paratroop battalion, said the 49 terrified prisoners were taken
into a quarry and shot dead. He said: "We couldn't take care
of anything else before we got done with them. One escaped with
bullets in the chest and in the leg, but came back on all fours
because he was thirsty. He soon joined his [dead] comrades."
Mr. Biro said he and his troops later killed 56 Egyptian
soldiers and irregulars as they were advancing in a truck to the
oil port of Ras-al-Sudr on the Gulf of Suez.
survived the initial bursts of gunfire," he said. "They
later went to sleep with the rest. Blood was coming out of every
hole in the flatbed truck and in huge quantities."
witness told the newspaper: "When the rear flap was lowered,
all the bodies poured out in one mass. I couldn't bear the thought
that we shot people without a fight." Another 168 Egyptian
soldiers were cut down as the paratroopers headed South.
Biro's commanding officers were Ariel Sharon and Rafael Eytan..."
In 1957 he attended the
Camberley Staff College in Great Britain.
Sharon served as an infantry brigade commander and then as
Infantry School Commander.
He was appointed Head of the
IDF Northern Command in 1964 and Head of the Army Training
Department in 1966.
He participated in the 1967 Six Day
War as commander of an armored division.
In 1969 he was
appointed Head of the IDF Southern Command.
August 1971 alone, troops under Mr Sharon's command destroyed some
2,000 homes in the Gaza Strip, uprooting 12,000 people
[Palestinian refugees] for the second time in their lives.
Hundreds of young Palestinian men were arrested and deported to
Jordan and Lebanon. Six hundred relatives of suspected guerrillas
were exiled to Sinai. In the second half of 1971, 104 guerrillas
Sharon resigned from the
army in June 1972, but was recalled to active military service in
the 1973 Yom Kippur War to command an armored division and lead
the crossing of the Suez Canal.
Ariel Sharon was elected
to the Knesset in December 1973, but resigned a year later,
serving as security adviser to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin
He was again elected to the Knesset in 1977 on the
Appointed Minister of Agriculture in the
first government created by Menachem Begin, he pursued
agricultural cooperation with Egypt.
In 1981, Sharon
was appointed Defense Minister, serving in this post during the
Lebanon War, which brought about the destruction of the PLO
terrorist infrastructure in Lebanon.
The Electronic Intifada notes: As minister of defense in 1982,
Sharon orchestrated Israel's invasion of Lebanon, a military
operation that killed tens of thousands of civilians as Israeli
forces sought to destroy the Palestine Liberation Organisation's
infrastructure in the region. According to the statistics
published in the Third World Quarterly (Volume 6, Issue 4,
October 1984, pp. 934-949), over 29,500 Palestinians and Lebanese
were either killed or wounded from 4 July 1982 through to 15
August 1982, 40 percent were children. Israel's stated motive for
its "Operation Peace for Galilee" invasion of Lebanon
was to bring peace to frontline Israeli communities in Northern
Galilee. In fact, the disastrous events of 1982-85 were the very
catalysts of the Hizbullah Shi'a resistance movement in South
Lebanon. Previous to Israel's military interventionism in the
early 1980s, the Shi'a of south Lebanon had not professed any
aggression or hostility towards the Israelis.
is responsible for the massacre of Palestinian and Lebanese
civilians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, on the southern
outskirts of Beirut. The slaughter in the two contiguous camps at
Sabra and Shatila took place from the evening of September 16,
1982 until the morning of September 18, 1982, in an area under the
control of the Israeli armed forces. The perpetrators were members
of the Phalange (Kata'eb, in Arabic) militia, the Lebanese
force that was armed by and closely allied with Israel since the
onset of Lebanon's civil war in 1975. Prior to the massacre,
Sharon had meetings with the Phalange forces.
For over 60
hours -- aided by an Israeli siege around the camps and guided by
the light of Israeli flares -- forces belonging to the
Israeli-allied Phalangist militia went through the camps, killing
Palestinian and Lebanese civilians. Some were lined up against
walls and mown down by machine-gun fire. Others were left in heaps
on the floors of their homes or on the streets of the camps.
Children were shot dead, women and girls were raped and mutilated
and men were disembowelled prior to being executed.
precise number of victims of the massacre may never be exactly
determined. The International Committee of the Red Cross counted
1,500 at the time of the massacre but by September 22 this count
had risen to 2,400. On the following day 350 bodies were uncovered
so that the total then ascertained had reached 2,750. Israeli
military intelligence estimated that 700 to 800 were killed.
Resolution UNSC 521 (1982) of 19 September 1982 offered
uneqivocal condemnation of the Sabra and Shatila Massacre,
although it avoided naming any perpetrators at this early stage.
The question of direct Israeli involvement in the massacre
is one that has never been fully resolved. However -- despite
denials -- it is not credible that Israeli troops surrounding
the two camps were unaware of what was going on inside:
5-5.30 am low level flights of Israeli planes over Sabra and
Shatila took place, after which shelling promptly commenced."
(Source: The New York Times, 16 September 1982, quoting
Dr. Witsoe, Gaza hospital.)
"The Israelis established
observation posts on top of multi-storey buildings in the
north-west quadrant of the Kuwaiti Embassy. From these posts, the
naked eye has a clear view of several sections of the camps,
including those parts of Shatila where piles of bodies were
found." (Source: Newsweek, 4 October 1982, Ray
Wilkinson; The Guardian, 20 September 1982; and The New
York Times, 26 September 1982.)
night flares lit up the sky. They were fired at the rate of two a
minute, as reported by an Israeli soldier from a mortar unit."
(Source: The Jerusalem Post, 21 September 1982.)
Jewish-American registered nurse, Ms. Ellen Siegel, was working in
Gaza hospital in the Sabra refugee camp in Beirut, where she and a
medical team treated the first victims of the massacre. She and
other health workers were lined up against a bullet-riddled wall
by Phalangists who were about to execute them, with rifles aimed,
when an Israeli officer came running to stop this possible
execution. She told The Electronic Intifada that:
spoke with Zeev Schiff [a military affairs correspondant for
Ha'aretz newspaper] in person about this incident. The wall
was located just outside the camp but obviously if the commander
could see this, he could see other things. We were taken to the
area of the FCP [Forward Command Post]. From there one could look
down onto the camps. My understanding is that the IDF had
sophisticated visual equipment. There was a BBC film made in '92
("See No Evil"). In this film they interviewed Israeli
soldiers who were at the camps. They clearly allude to knowing
what was going on."
Israeli commission of inquiry -- chaired by Yitzhak Kahan,
president of Israel's Supreme Court -- investigated the massacre,
and in February 1983 publicly released its findings. The Kahan
Commission found that Ariel Sharon, among other Israelis, had
responsibility for the massacre, although it carefully sidestepped
any accusation of direct involvement in the massacre and chose not
to attempt to reconcile much of the contradictory testimony. The
commission's report stated in pertinent part:
is our view that responsibility is to be imputed to the Minister
of Defence for having disregarded the danger of acts of vengeance
and bloodshed by the Phalangists against the population of the
refugee camps, and having failed to take this danger into account
when he decided to have the Phalangists enter the camps. In
addition, responsibility is to be imputed to the Minister of
Defence for not ordering appropriate measures for preventing or
reducing the danger of massacre as a condition for the
Phalangists' entry into the camps. These blunders constitute the
non-fulfillment of a duty with which the Defence Minister was
Commission also concluded:
his meeting with the Phalangist commanders, the Defence Minister
made no attempt to point out to them the gravity of the danger
that their men would commit acts of slaughter.... Had it become
clear to the Defence Minister that no real supervision could be
exercised over the Phalangist force that entered the camps with
the IDF's assent, his duty would have been to prevent their entry.
The usefulness of the Phalangists' entry into the camps was wholly
disproportionate to the damange their entry could cause if it were
Commission further noted:
shall remark here that it is obstensibly puzzling that the Defence
Minister did not in any way make the Prime Minister [Menachem
Begin] privy to the decision on having the Phalangists enter the
In the realm of
international relations, he was instrumental in renewing
diplomatic relations with the African nations which had broken off
ties with Israel during the Yom Kippur War. In November 1981, he
brought about the first strategic cooperation agreement with the
U.S. and widened defense ties between Israel and many nations. He
also helped bring thousands of Jews from Ethiopia through Sudan.
Between 1984 and 1990 Sharon served as Minister of Trade
and Industry. In this capacity, he concluded the Free Trade
Agreement with the U.S. in 1985.
In 1990-1992, he
served as Minister of Construction and Housing. Following the fall
of the Soviet Union and the waves of immigration from Russia, he
initiated and carried out a program to absorb the immigrants
throughout the country, including the construction of 144,000
The Electronic Intifada notes: Sharon was a key player in the
settlement explosion throughout the 1977-1992 Likud-era of Israeli
government. This period was characterised by more land
confiscation and more settlement activity than had ever been seen
before in Israeli history. The number of settlers in the Occupied
Palestinian Territories increased by over two thousand percent
during this period, to approximately 110,000 people.
From 1992 to 1996, he
served as a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense
In 1996, Ariel Sharon was appointed Minister
of National Infrastructure and was involved in fostering joint
ventures with Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinians.
The Electronic Intifada notes: Yet again, Sharon was in charge
of settlement construction. In the post-Oslo period, Israel
established 30 new settlements and thus nearly doubled the settler
population in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip from 109,000 in
1993 to nearly 200,000 in 1999 (figures exclude new settlements in
the greater Jerusalem metropolitan area). Source: Foundation
for Middle East Peace.
He also served as
Chairman of the Ministerial Committee for Bedouin advancement.
In 1998 Ariel Sharon was appointed Foreign Minister and
charged with conducting negotiations towards a final agreement
with the Palestinian Authority. He accompanied Prime Minister
Netanyahu to the Wye River Plantation as chief negotiator. While
serving as Foreign Minister, Sharon met with U.S., European,
Palestinian and Arab leaders to advance the peace process. 
The Electronic Intifada notes: Sharon's concept of "advancing
the peace process" remained somewhat flawed during this
According to an Agence France Presse report
of 15 November 1998, while addressing a meeting of militants from
the extreme right-wing Tsomet Party, Foreign Minister Sharon
has to move, run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge
the settlements because everything we take now will stay ours...
Everything we don't grab will go to them."
He worked mostly to
create and advance projects such as the Flagship Water Project
funded by the international community to find a long-term solution
to the region's water crisis and a basis to peaceful relations
between Israel, Jordan, the Palestinians and other Middle Eastern
Following the election of Ehud Barak as Prime
Minister in May 1999, Ariel Sharon was called upon to become
interim Likud party leader, and in September 1999 was elected
Chairman of the Likud.
On February 6, 2001, Ariel
Sharon was elected Prime Minister.
He presented his government to the Knesset on March 7, 2001,
retaining also the Immigrant Absorption portfolio.
The Electronic Intifada notes: Only four months before his
election, the ever-confrontational Sharon visited al-Haram
ash-Sharif on 28 September 2000 and sparked off the Second
Palestinian Intifada that has so far seen 393 Palestinians killed
up to March 8th, according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society.
On 19 October 2000, the United Nations Human Rights Commission,
meeting in an emergency session, adopted a resolution titled,
and massive violations of the human rights of the Palestinian
people by Israel," which condemned:
provocative visit to Al-Haram al-Sharif on 28 September 2000 by
Ariel Sharon, the Likud party leader, which triggered the tragic
events that followed in occupied East Jerusalem and the other
occupied Palestinian territories, resulting in a high number of
deaths and injuries among Palestinian civilians."
visit to the third holiest site in Islam, guarded by -- according
to the most conservative reports -- 1,000 armed Israeli soldiers,
was overtly designed to demonstrate Israel's "sovereignty"
over Jerusalem, especially over the Al-Haram Ash-Sharif (which
most Israelis call "the Temple Mount") and provoke an
angry response. It was also intended to impress the right wing of
the Israeli public, who later castigated Labour Prime Minister
Barak for his "restraint" in the face of the Palestinian
uprising by electing Sharon, who sparked it off.
holds a degree in Law and Middle Eastern Studies from the Hebrew
University of Jerusalem (1962). He has published a book and
numerous articles in local and foreign newspapers.
widowed and has two sons.
A NOTE ON SHARON'S RECORD AND
crimes and crimes against humanity are particularly henious
crimes. Responding to the atrocities committed in the course of
the second World War, the international community set itself an
objective to combat such crimes. This ambition has found
_expression in a number of international treaties, notably under
the aegis of the United Nations.
The 1998 request for the
extradition of Augusto Pinochet and the legal battles that ensued
demonstrated a heightened interest in bringing persons involved in
grave crimes to justice. The Pinochet case reaffirmed the
principle that human rights atrocities are subject to "universal
jurisdiction" and can be prosecuted anywhere in the world.
Two rulings by the House of Lords found that Pinochet was not
immune from prosecution even though he was head of state at the
time the crimes were committed.
Israeli Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon's personal history is intertwined with war crimes and
crimes against humanity. Cases such as those of Yugoslavian former
president Slobodan Milosevic, the perpetrators of the Rwandan
genocide, and others, provide compelling precedents for ending the
impunity that Ariel Sharon has thus far enjoyed. Sharon should be
indicted for the crimes in which he bears responsibility as the
first step in a process of accountability that will bring justice
to his victims and their families.
Judicial authorities in
Israel have never shouldered their legal responsibilities and
thoroughly investigated and prosecuted Ariel Sharon for the
massacres and other crimes he committed. The failure of the
Israeli legal system to act obligates the international community
-- in particular the European Union since all its member states
are High Contracting Parties of the Geneva Conventions -- to hold
Ariel Sharon accountable, regardless of whether he is a private
citizen of Israel, a cabinet minister, or the head of a
Article 146 of the Geneva Convention relative
to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War states that
each High Contracting Party
be under the obligation to search for persons alleged to have
committed, or to have ordered to be committed"
breaches of the Convention,
shall bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before
its own courts. It may also, if it prefers, and in accordance with
the provisions of its own legislation, hand such persons over for
trial to another High Contracting Party concerned, provided such
High Contracting Party has made out a prima facie case."
147 of the Convention states that the grave breaches noted in
Article 146 include willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment,
including biological experiments, willfully causing great
suffering or serious injury to body or health, unlawful
deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement of a protected
person, compelling a protected person to serve in the forces of a
hostile Power, or willfully depriving a protected person of the
rights of fair and regular trial prescribed in the present
Convention, taking of hostages and extensive destruction and
appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and
carried out unlawfully and wantonly.