Amid tight security, Israeli leader Ariel Sharon, 85, was buried on Monday on Anemone Hill, in a plot next to his wife, Lily, on the grounds of his 1,000-acre Sycamore Farm, in the Western Negev, at a state funeral attended by two dozen foreign dignitaries.
Some 800 Israeli police were on hand and two Iron Dome anti-rocket batteries were deployed, according to police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld. Earlier on Monday, two rockets were launched, but failed to leave Gazan airspace, according to IDF spokesman Peter Lerner.
The funeral followed a memorial ceremony at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, and a ceremony for the Israel Defense Forces General Staff at Latrun Junction, in the hills west of the capital, where Sharon fought and was almost killed, after being shot in the abdomen, in the 1948 War of Independence, the Times of Israel reported.
At Sycamore Farm, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and former UK Prime Minister and UN Mideast Envoy Tony Blair were among the foreign leaders who attended the funeral, along with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, Israeli President Shimon Peres, and former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert.
Biden said, “The security of his people was always Arik’s unwavering mission – a non-breakable commitment to the future of Jews, whether 30 years or 300 years from now,” according to the Daily Mail. ”History will judge that he also lived in complex times, in a very complex neighborhood,” he added.
Blair said Ariel Sharon was “a giant of this land” who had the “idea that the Jewish people, so often victims of injustice and persecution, should have a state where they could be independent and free,” adding, “Think good or ill of Arik Sharon, agree or disagree with him, but that calling – a noble one – was plain and unalloyed.”
Netanyahu said, “Arik understood that in matters of our existence and security, we must stand firm. Israel will continue to fight terror. Israel will continue to strive for peace, while protecting our security. Israel will act in every way to deny Iran the capability of arming itself with nuclear weapons.”
“Ariel Sharon will go down in history as one of Israel’s greatest military leaders and one of the greatest fighters for the people of Israel in their land,” Netanyahu said.
In his eulogy, Peres, the only surviving Israeli leader who served in the 1948 War of Independence, said, “We are accompanying to his final resting place today, a soldier, an exceptional soldier, a commander who knew how to win.”
Sharon died on Saturday, after suffering a stroke eight years ago and never awakening from a coma.