During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, he commanded an infantry company in the Alexandroni Brigade. In 1953, he founded and led the "101" special commando unit which carried out "retaliatory operations." Such operations included the October 1953 Qibya massacre, in which 69 Palestinians were killed.
During 1958-62, Sharon served as an infantry brigade commander and then as Infantry School Commander. He was appointed Head of the IDF Northern Command in 1964 and Head of the Army Training Branch in 1966. He participated in the 1967 Six Day War as commander of an armored division. In 1969 he was appointed Head of the IDF Southern Command.
Sharon resigned from the army in 1973, but was recalled to active military service in the October 1973 Yom Kippur War to command an armored division. He led the crossing of the Suez Canal during the conflict.
In 1981 Ariel Sharon was appointed Defense Minister. In November 1981, he brought about the first strategic cooperation agreement with the U.S. He was also involved in organising the immigration of thousands of Jews from Ethiopia through Sudan.
Sharon was Defence Minister during the 1982 Lebanon war, during which Phalangist militias allied to Israel massacred Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps:
- In February 1983, the Kahan commission found that no Israeli was "directly responsible" for the massacre, but determined that Sharon bore "personal responsibility". It ruled that he was negligent in ignoring the possibility of bloodshed in the camps following the assassination of the Lebanese Forces' leader, president-elect Bashir Gemayel, on September 14 - a massacre that Sharon publicly, and erroneously, blamed on Palestinians. Sharon resigned his defence portfolio, but stayed in the cabinet.
From 1983-84, Sharon served as Minister without Portfolio, and from 1984-1990 as Minister of Trade and Industry. In this capacity, he concluded the Free Trade Agreement with the U.S. in 1985.
From 1990-1992, he served as Minister of Construction and Housing and Chairman of the Ministerial Committee on Immigration and Absorption. Following the fall of the Soviet Union and the waves of immigration from Russia, he initiated and carried out a program to absorb the immigrants.
From 1992-1996, he served as a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
In 1996, Ariel Sharon was appointed Minister of National Infrastructure.
In 1998 Ariel Sharon was appointed Foreign Minister and headed the permanent status negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.
Following the election of Ehud Barak as Prime Minister in May 1999, Ariel Sharon was called upon to become interim Likud party leader, and in September 1999 was elected Chairman of the Likud. He served as a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
On February 6, 2001, Sharon was elected Prime Minister. He presented his government to the Knesset on March 7, 2001. After calling early elections to the 16th Knesset, which were held on January 28, 2003, Ariel Sharon was charged by the president with forming a government and presented his new government to the Knesset on February 27, 2003.
After forming a new party, Kadima, in anticipation of elections to the 17th Knesset, Prime Minister Sharon suffered a brain hemmorhage on January 4, 2006, and Ehud Olmert was designated Acting Prime Minister. He has not regained consciousness.
- Ofer Aderet, Ariel Sharon feared genocide charges over Israel's role in Sabra and Shatila, Haaretz, 21 February 2013.
- Ariel Sharon, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, accessed 9 June 2012.
- Jason Burke, From butcher to 'Lion' to Prime Minister of Israel, The Observer, 4 February 2001.
- Julie Flint, The Sharon files, The Guardian, 28 November 2001.