The funeral for Ariel Sharon got underway Monday morning, in a day that would highlight the former Israeli prime minister's military and political contributions to the country.
The funeral, attended by leaders from Israel and around the world, began at 9:30 A.M. with an official ceremony at the Knesset, where Sharon's body lay in state on Sunday. Keynote speeches were delivered at the ceremony by President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.
Other world dignitaries who arrived in Israel for a day of ceremonies include Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, former British Prime Minister and Quartet envoy to the region Tony Blair, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Czech Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok.
At the conclusion of the Knesset ceremony, the funeral cortege departed from Jerusalem for Sycamore Ranch, Sharon's farm in the Negev, the site of his burial.
3:14 P.M. U.S. Vice President Biden lays wreath at Sharon's grave, after which Quartet envoy Tony Blair and British politician Hugh Robertson, Czech Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok, Australian Minister Julie Bishop and other world dignitaries lay wreaths at Sharon's grave.
3:07 P.M. Prime Minister Netanyahu lays a wreath at Sharon's grave.
3:06 P.M. President Peres lays a wreath at Sharon's grave.
2:55 P.M. Gilad Sharon: There is no place in Israel that does not bear your imprint.
2:53 P.M. Gilad Sharon describes how Sharon remained strong after the death of his son, Gur, and his military achievements, saying, "Time after time you transformed the impossible into reality."
2:50 P.M. Gilad Sharon, Ariel Sharon's son, eulogizes his father.
2:46 P.M. Omri Sharon, Ariel Sharon's son, eulogizes his father.
2:46 P.M. Gantz: "In the name of the entire IDF and generations of soldiers, I salute you today."
2:44 P.M. Gantz: "Arik, you were a unique and stand-out commander." He says Israel will continue to shape its soldiers in Sharon's image.
2:41 P.M. Gantz says that Sharon's determination and rare qualities shaped the IDF
2:35 P.M. IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz speaking at Sharon burial ceremony
2:26 P.M. Burial ceremony of Ariel Sharon begins on his farm, Sycamore Ranch; he will be interrred next to his wife, Lily.
2:20 P.M. Massive array of drones, fighter jets and missile defense batteries deployed between Gaza Strip and Sharon's funeral three kilometers away.
2:16 P.M. Sharon's coffin arrives at Sycamore Ranch; his burial on Anemone Hill due to begin.
1:41 P.M. The funeral procession left Latrun and is heading toward Sharon's Sycamore Ranch in the Negev.
1:14 P.M. About 400 people gathered at Anemone Hill ahead of Sharon's burial.
1:01 P.M. Sharon's coffin arrived at the Latrun Armored Corps Memorial, where the IDF General Staff held a salute for the former general.
12:26 P.M. Final preparations being made at Anemone Hill ahead of Sharon's burial starting at 2 P.M.
10:48 A.M. Blair rejected “the idea that he changed from man of war to a man of peace. He never changed. His strategic objective never wavered. The state…had to be protected for future generations. When that meant fighting, he fought. When that meant making peace, he sought peace with the same iron determination.”
10:45 A.M. Blair: Sharon “didn’t think of peace as a dreamer, but did dream of peace."
10:26 A.M. Blair: The state Sharon fought for from age 14 had to be protected. When that meant fighting, he fought. When that meant, he peace sought peace.
10:24 A.M. Quartet Representative Tony Blair: "By Israel, [Sharon] meant not only a country and a people but an idea."
10:13 A.M. Biden: "His political courage – whether you agreed with him or not – when he told ten thousand Israelis to leave their homes in Gaza for the future of Israel. I could not think of a more difficult or controversial decision that he had made."
"Sharon was a complex man who lived in complex times in a complex neighborhood."
10:11 A.M. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Sharon's ceremony: "Prime minister Sharon engendered strong opinions. But like all historic leaders, he had a north star that guided him. The north star which he never – in my observation – deviated from. His north star was the survival of the State of Israel and the Jewish people. "
10:09 A.M. Netanyahu: Arik, the nation of Israel is parting from you today and your unique contribution to the country's security is engraved in our nation's history. Your memory will forever be kept in the nation's heart.
10:07 A.M. Netanyahu: Israel will continue to fight terror and to strive toward peace. Israel will act in every possible way to prevent Iran from arming itself with nuclear weapons
10:05 A.M. Netanyahu: Sharon ascribed great importance to our ties with our ally the U.S. but also knew to stand firmly for our interests in the face of the world. Sharon urged the world not to appease the Arabs at our expense.
10:02 A.M. Netanyahu: Arik was a pragmatist who felt deeply for the state and the Jewish people. He understood the nature of anti-Semitism and the need for the Jews to be the master of their own fate.
9:59 A.M. Netanyahu: I didn't always agree with Arik and he didn’t always agree with me, but when each of use served in the other's government, we supported one another for Israel's sake.
9:55 A.M. Netanyahu: "Sharon was one of Israel's greatest military leaders… he belongs to the generation of Israel's founders and had a central role in the Israel's legacy of valor."
9:50 A.M. Peres: "You were a shoulder on which the security of our people could lean."
9:45 A.M. Peres: Sharon's "fingerprints are imprinted on every political and military milestone" in Israeli history.
9:35 A.M. Peres eulogizes Sharon: "Arik – a friend, a leader, a military chief… Israel loved him and he loved its children…. Arik, you were a rare man. You turned the impossible into great opportunities. Rest in peace, great leader."
9:11 A.M. Dozens of Israeli politicians who worked with Sharon arrived at the Knesset to pay their respects.
9:00 A.M. Intermittent traffic disruptions are expected on the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway (Route 1,) at the entrance to Jerusalem, at Latrun and in the vicinity of Sharon's ranch in the Negev.
8:37 A.M. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived at Ben-Gurion International Airport and made his way to Jerusalem.
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