Ariel Sharon: A life of fighting and farming, in pictures

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Ariel Sharon as Israeli Prime Minister-elect at the Western Wall on February 7, 2001, the day after his landslide win over Ehud Barak. Barak had made a similar visit the day after he defeated Benjamin Netanyahu 21 months prior.

Credit:

Thomas Coex

JERUSALEM — Israel's storied military leader and onetime prime minister, known locally as Arik, died on Saturday at 85. Ariel Sharon had been unresponsive and in a coma since a massive stroke in 2006, but until this month had remained in a relatively stable physical state.

Sharon was often referred to as The Bulldozer, a nickname coined as much for his personal style as for the bluntness of his views. Admirers called him the King of Israel, a moniker later taken up, with heavy irony, by his detractors — before the irony was pulled from under their feet as he led Israel to abandon Gaza, losing his government and his party along the way.

Those who admired Sharon for his audacious military exploits and devil-may-care political earthiness — and those who despised him as a reckless, obstinate extremist — were alike struck by his physical vigor, cheery countenance and hearty, oversized appetites. Countless visitors, from lowly journalists to heads of state, would deliver dazed accounts of having been served an entire, newly slaughtered lamb at Sharon's farmhouse table.

Read more on the Israeli icon's complicated legacy.

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    Ariel Sharon, then commander in chief of Tsahal forces, in the Sinai desert on November 12, 1973.

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    A photo taken in January 1974 on the right bank of the Suez Canal shows Israeli general Ariel Sharon a few days before he left the army to become a politician.

    Credit:

    STF

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    Ariel Sharon as newly elected opposition leader with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in September 1999.

    Credit:

    Avichai Nitzan

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    Ariel Sharon speaks with his son Gilad (left) during his wife's funeral on February 29, 2000. His other son, Omri, is at his right.

    Credit:

    Danny Salomon

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    Sharon, illuminated by fireworks during the official opening of his electoral campaign on January 10, 2001.

    Credit:

    Menahem Kahana

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    Sharon with his dog at his ranch, Havat Shikmim, on January 20, 2001.

    Credit:

    Michael Kremer

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    Sharon visits the grave of his wife Lily at his farm, Havat Shikmim, in the northern Negev desert on February 7, 2001.

    Credit:

    Danny Solomon

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    Ariel Sharon as Israeli Prime Minister-elect at the Western Wall on February 7, 2001, the day after his landslide win over Ehud Barak. Barak had made a similar visit the day after he defeated Benjamin Netanyahu 21 months prior.

    Credit:

    Thomas Coex

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    A Palestinian boy points a gun towards an effigy of Ariel Sharon during a demonstration in a Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon on February 7, 2001. Sharon is still remembered by Palestinians for having been Israel's defense minister during the Sabra and Shatila massacres in Lebanon in 1982: While Israeli forces were occupying Beirut, Lebanese Christian militia killed hundreds, or possibly thousands, of civilians near the Shatila Palestinian refugee camp.

    Credit:

    Mahmoud Zayat

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    Sharon sits alone in parliament before his speech at the opening of the Knesset's summer session in Jerusalem on May 7, 2001.

    Credit:

    Menahem Kahana

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    Sharon writes a message on a memorial wall honoring those killed on September 11 on a visit to New York on November 30, 2001.

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    US President George W. Bush speaks alongside then-prime minister Ariel Sharon during a joint news conference on Israel's Gaza pullout at Bush's Texas ranch on April 11, 2005.

    Credit:

    Rod Aydelotte