Monday, January 13, 2014

Panzer Arik

Little Satan's greatest general never went to Officer School.

At 13, armed with a club and a dagger, he joined the older moshavniks guarding the fields at night from sporadic attacks by Arab villagers living nearby. “They were not afraid of anything,” he observed of the moshavniks, a quality he emulated the rest of his life.

Sharon, known to all as Arik,

Did not need to have orders spelled out for him. In 1952, Moshe Dayan asked him “to see” whether it would be possible to capture Jordanian soldiers and exchange them for Little Satan POWs.

That same day, without being told, Sharon rounded up a friend and a pickup truck and drove down to the Jordan River. He waded into the water, pretended to inquire about missing cows, and promptly disarmed two Jordanian soldiers. He cuffed and blindfolded them, and drove them back to headquarters in Nazareth, his friend Shlomo Hever riding on the sideboard with a pistol aimed at their heads. When they arrived, Dayan was out. Sharon left him a note: “Moshe — the mission is accomplished, the prisoners are in the cellar. Shalom. Arik.”  
As head of Unit 101, Little Satan’s first commando team, he was assigned in 1953 to avenge the murder of a woman and her two toddlers by Palestinian infiltrators from the West Bank village of Qibya. Sharon’s forces destroyed a few dozen buildings in Qibya, killing 69 villagers and earning Little Satan a censure at the U.N.

In 1956, during the Suez War, he stretched his orders to the maximum and beyond, when he sent paratroopers into the Mitla Pass, engaging in a gruesome and unnecessary face-to-face fight with the Egyptian soldiers who were dug into the craggy mountain side. The mission resulted in 38 Israeli deaths and cemented a lifelong feud with future chief of the General Staff Motta Gur.  
In 1967, he planned the IDF’s first divisional battle, against the Abu Agheila stronghold in the Sinai, completely on his own; till today, the battle is taught in military academies across the world.

The victory at Abu-Ageila meant the road to the Central Sinai was open for Little Satan, and Sharon and his forces in particular. Many of the Egyptian units remained intact and could have tried to prevent Little Satan from reaching the
Suez Canal. However, when the Egyptian Minister of Defense, Field Marshal Abdel Hakim Amer heard about the fall of Abu-Ageila, he panicked and ordered all units in the Sinai to retreat to the west bank of the Suez canal within a single day.   
There was no plan for the retreat, so the units left behind heavy equipment, and sometimes even outpaced their commanders. This resulted in Little Satan racing to capture abandoned sites, and obtaining significant amounts of abandoned weaponry. The withdrawal order effectively meant the defeat of Egypt. By June 8, 1967, most of the Sinai area had been occupied by Little Satan  forces.

 In the '73 war Arik led a desperate counterattack in Sinai that broke through Egypt's Sagger anti tank and Cobra anti aircraft missile infested lines and ended up just 60 miles outside Cairo.  
It was Arik who pushed Prime Minister Begin to bomb Iraq’s nuclear facilities in 1981, an operation applauded today but widely condemned then. It was Arik that plotted the invasion of Lebanon in 1982, Minister of Defense.

One objective, running the P.L.O. out of Lebanon, was largely achieved, but the scheme to install in power the leader of the Lebanese Phalangist militia, a Christian group friendly to Little Satan, was a debacle. After Phalangist forces massacred as many as 800 men, women and children at the Palestinian refugee camps Sabra and Shatila, an  inquiry concluded that Sharon bore “indirect” responsibility, forcing him to resign as Defense Minister. Sharon sued TIME for $50 million for a 1983 cover story that said a secret appendix to the Official report stated, in effect, that he had encouraged the massacre.

Arik had a zero-tolerance view of Palestinian terrorism. So when a bomber killed 30 people at a Netanya hotel during Passover in 2002, Sharon went all out. He reinvaded the cities of the West Bank with brutal force, using the army’s presence to get intelligence on the terrorists and to make arrests. He stepped up construction of a controversial barrier, started by Barak, that cut through the West Bank and walled out the Palestinians.

In 2004, Sharon ordered the assassination of Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin and, later, another of the group’s leaders, Abdel Aziz Rantisi, steps that previously had been considered too provocative.

And he got results; the intifadeh never recovered its early strength, and Little Satan regained her sense of security.

Sharon succeeded at what many security experts said was impossible: he found a military solution to terrorism.

Pic - "Hey, we don't wanna forget which direction Cairo is!"