Gazans inspect a site which allegedly was hit in a retaliatory Israeli strike after Sharon's funeral. (Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90) Gazans inspect a site which allegedly was hit in a retaliatory Israeli strike after Sharon's funeral. (Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
sharon laid to rest

Ariel Sharon, Israel’s 11th prime minister and one of its greatest military strategists, was laid to rest on Monday afternoon at his Sycamore Ranch in southern Israel. However, as the Irish Independent quipped, he was “laid to rest but not in peace.”

Within a short time after the burial, two rockets were launched from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and landed in an open field in the vicinity of the border fence, only a few kilometers from where US Vice-President Joe Biden and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair had just eulogized the deceased.

Rockets were also fired before the funeral but did not land in Israel.

Israel had warned Hamas of dire consequences should it disrupt the funeral with rockets and on Monday morning retaliated by firing into Gaza.

According to Israeli daily Ma’ariv, the fact that the IDF stationed an Iron Dome battery in the area near the funeral site “is, perhaps, the clearest repudiation of Sharon’s legacy.”

Sharon was laid to rest, the paper continues, “in a place he loved – in an area under threat from the same region he destroyed and whose flourishing communities he uprooted,” citing reports that Hamas now has missiles that can hit as far as Hadera, a city between Tel Aviv and Haifa.

“The Iron Dome is protecting the funeral and the dignitaries out of fears of a rocket attack from the land that used to be our homes. That’s what I call irony,” Anita Tucker, who was among nearly 10,000 people evacuated from their homes and businesses in Gaza in 2005 – under Sharon’s orders – commented.

Buses were made available to shuttle thousands of ordinary citizens who were expected to attend the funeral, but only a couple of hundred went. On Sunday, however, Israelis from all walks of life flocked to the Knesset to catch a glimpse of Sharon’s coffin and to pay their final respects a day ahead of the burial.

“Arik Sharon had a central role in the building of the Israel Defense Force’s heritage of valor,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated, adding that the iconic general and former prime minister had “laid the foundations of the battle doctrine of the IDF, the doctrine of reprisal and initiative in the war against terrorism.”

“Arik was a man of the land,” President Shimon Peres said in his eulogy. “He was a military legend in his lifetime and then turned his gaze to the day Israel would dwell in safety, when our children would return to our borders and peace would grace the Promised Land.”

Acclaimed singer Sarit Hadad performed a classic Israeli piece, followed by eulogies by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the Quartet’s special envoy to the Middle East.

The final eulogies were of a more personal nature, including those by Sharon’s longtime secretary Mirit Danon and Shimon (Katcha) Cahaner, who fought alongside Sharon as a paratrooper.

The ceremony concluded with Sharon’s sons, Omri and Gilad, reciting Kaddish, the Jewish mourner’s prayer.

Author: Yonatan Sredni, contributor, United with Israel
Date: Jan. 14, 2014