En route to Negev burial site, Sharon’s cortege stops at his Latrun battlefield

“Sharon was the last bulldozer. He was the State of Israel – and it makes me sad that the state did not come to a halt," says mourner.

By MOSHE ARENS TEIN
January 14, 2014 01:34
2 minute read.
Latrun

Ariel Sharon's coffin makes a stop at Yad Lashiryon, the Armored Corps Memorial, on its way to his final resting place, January 13, 2014.. (photo credit: IDF Spokesman)

 
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Following Monday’s state funeral ceremony at the Knesset, the cortege bearing former prime minister Ariel Sharon’s coffin made a stop for a short ceremony at Yad Lashiryon, the Armored Corps Memorial.

It was there during the 1948 Battle of Latrun that the young platoon commander Sharon was severely wounded.

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At the memorial site, the former general Sharon, who fought in almost all of Israel’s wars, received a special salute by the IDF General Staff. The short ceremony was attended by the family, including Sharon’s sons Gilad and Omri, and several guests.

The commander of the Alexandroni Battalion, David Zini, noted that the funeral route passed through “this valley which saw many battles in the history of the people of Israel. This was an important milestone in Sharon’s life.”

He added that, “The Battle of Latrun, in which he was gravely injured, shaped his personality as a warrior, commander, and leader."

Outside the ceremony a crowd gathered hoping to get a glimpse of the former prime minister’ coffin. Nearby stood Ynik Katzir, 79, who came from Haifa. A former major in the IDF, Katzir said that, although he had never met Sharon in person, he felt that they had “fought side by side” during most of Israel’s wars.

“Kids these days don’t know who he was, how he saved the country a number of times, especially during the Yom Kippur war,” Katzir said. He was a good man, a real mensch.”



Another spectator was Eti Eluz, who came from Ramle also in anticipation of seeing the coffin. “I am very emotional about his death. I came here to salute him, to show my respect. I even brought an Israeli flag with me.” Eluz was disappointed that not many came to pay their respects.

“Look, there are no kids, no school children, no youth – they should have been bused here to hear about his life.”

“Sharon was the last bulldozer. He was the State of Israel – and it makes me sad that the state did not come to a halt. I am ashamed, I expected to see more people here,” said Eluz.

Amnon Pohachevsky was not so upset. The 62-year-old had bicycled all the way from Gedera, in hope the police would allow him to accompany the funeral cortege on its way west. Pohachevsky, a distant relative of Sharon, remembers the days in 1970, “when everybody hated Sharon. He was living in Beersheva, as he was in charge of the Southern Command. I stayed over at his house once, when he got a call notifying him of a soldier killed on the [Suez] canal. He shed a tear, not even knowing who the guy was. That’s who Arik was: human and sensitive.”

“Now we should all celebrate his great life, and what he did for this country,” Pohachevsky added.

Spectator Ruth Avramovich remembered the controversies around Sharon’s life. “I always admired him, but never voted for him. I came here because he deserved respect. He was a dominant leader, smart and thoughtful. But I did not agree with everything he did. I believed in coexistence, and not in extremes.”

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