Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was laid to rest near his Sycamore Ranch in the Negev on Anemone Hill in a military burial on Monday afternoon. The ceremony attracted thousands of mourners from across the political spectrum.
Following a Knesset ceremony Monday morning, the procession continued to Latrun, where a special meeting of the IDF’s general staff was held.IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz said at the Negev funeral that generations of fighters came to the funeral to bid Sharon farewell. Gantz recalled Sharon as a warrior, music lover, farmer and spoke of Sharon's creation of Unit 101 in his fight against terror and his determination to carry out his mission. "I came to tell you that the IDF you so cherished will continue in your footsteps for many years," Gantz said at Sharon's graveside. The former premier's two sons, Omri and Gilad Sharon both spoke during the ceremony near the ranch.Omri said, speaking to his father, "I was privileged to work with you and watch you worry over Israel's future." Gilad Sharon recalled the tragic impact of his brother Gur's death in 1977 on his father and their family.He continued by recounting his father's impossible missions in Gaza and in Sinai, and the massive building project he carried out for the Russian immigrants. He also referred to his father's involvement in the withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, saying that Gaza evacuees, before they attack his father for destroying settlements, should remember that he built 100 others in his lifetime, more than anyone else. Gilad, speaking of his father said, "time & time again you turned the impossible into reality."Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and Supreme Court President Asher Grunis lay flower wreaths on Sharon's grave. US Vice President Joe Biden, former prime minister Tony Blair and dignitaries from all over the world also lay wreaths. Sources close to Sharon expressed concern Sunday that extremists would try to disrupt the funeral.Tweets by @tovahlazaroff Due to the ranch’s close proximity to the Gaza Strip, police deployed hundreds of officers, border policemen and volunteers to secure the funeral.The air force and the Iron Dome missile defense system protected the funeral from attacks from Gaza. A source close to Sharon confirmed that Iron Dome batteries had been specially deployed for the ceremony.“I hope no crazy man in Gaza says ‘They are all there, so let’s finish them,’” a Sharon associate said. “There will be massive security, so we expect the event to pass quietly.”Omri and Gilad Sharon specifically asked to allow as many people as possible to attend the funeral. Massive screens with coverage of the funeral were placed a distance away from the grave site to enable the crowds to watch the ceremony.Thousands of people came to the Knesset Sunday to pay their last respects to Sharon.But the public was not invited to the event at the Knesset on Monday.“I am sure that among those who came, there are those who disagreed with him politically, but they all respected him,” Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said.