“May God torture him,” chant Arab Muslims at news of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s death

imagesSharon, the Israeli Prime Minister who unilaterally decided to evacuate Gaza, forcing thousands of Jews to leave their homes and property, was nevertheless cursed by the Arab Muslims in Gaza where people took to the streets to celebrate his death by passing out sweets to shouts of  “Sharon, go to hell.”

Bloomberg  Ariel Sharon, the Israeli warrior and former prime minister as famous for his ferocity in battling Arabs as for his turnaround decision to evacuate settlers and soldiers from the Gaza Strip, died yesterday. He was 85.

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Sharon was widely loathed by Arabs as the mastermind of crushing military offensives against them in Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza and as the architect of Israel’s biggest settlement campaign on lands they want for a state.

Admired as a military strategist while despised by Arab foes, the man nicknamed “the bulldozer” in the media left a legacy of controversy on and off battlefields from the early days of the nation’s existence. But Sharon  stunned Israelis by announcing his plan to evacuate Gaza after almost four decades. Withdrawal from four small West Bank settlements was also part of the proposal.

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“The withdrawal from Gaza wasn’t to buy peace, but to resolve a security situation,” said Dov Weissglas, Sharon’s chief of staff. “Someone had to say the buck stops here. This was Sharon.” In 2005, he ordered soldiers and 8,500 settlers to unilaterally leave the Gaza Strip and handed over the territory to Palestinian rule.

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The decision to leave Gaza won Sharon international accolades while causing an uproar among his power base. U.S. President George W. Bush hailed him at the time as “a man of peace” for being willing to make what Sharon called “painful concessions” to the Palestinians.

“May God torture him,” said a Muslim woman who only gave her first name, Samia. “We should celebrate. We should be firing in the air.”