Netanyahu: Ariel Sharon 'Forever' in our Hearts


JERUSALEM, Israel -- At the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday morning, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke briefly of the late Ariel (Arik) Sharon.

We take leave from Ariel Sharon, the 11th prime minister of the State of Israel. Arik was, first and foremost, a warrior and a commander, among the Jewish people's greatest generals in the current era and throughout its history. He was dedicated to the security of the state from his youth, as a young fighter in the War of Independence and afterwards as a commander in the 1956 Sinai operation, in the Six Day War and in the decisive battle during the Yom Kippur War in leading the IDF across the Suez Canal, which, for all intents and purposes, led to a successful conclusion of a war that began under very difficult conditions for the State of Israel.

He established Unit #101 and set two primary foundations for Israel's struggle against terrorism, initiative and retaliation, which stand to this day. He also continued this action as defense minister in distancing terrorism from our northern border.

In all of his positions -- defense minister, housing minister, infrastructures minister and foreign minister,  Arik contributed to the State of Israel, as he also did as prime minister. I think he represents the generation of Jewish warriors who arose for our people upon the resumption of our independence.

He was tied to the land; he knew that it had to be defended. He understood that above everything, our revival is our ability to defend ourselves by ourselves.

I believe that he will be remembered in the heart of the Jewish people's forever as one of our most outstanding leaders and most daring commanders.

Sharon died Saturday, eight years after suffering a massive brain hemorrhage that left him comatose. The state funeral began Monday morning at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, where Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein were joined by world leaders that included U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and E.U. Middle East envoy Tony Blair.

Following the ceremony, Sharon's casket was transported via military convoy to the former prime minister's Sycamore Ranch in the south. Sharon was buried alongside his wife, Lily, who died in 2000. His sons, Gilad and Omri, both spoke at the gravesite, as did IDF Chief of General Staff Benny Gantz, who called Sharon "an unparalleled and heroic commander."

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