Ariel Sharon is gone, but the struggle to obtain classified documents that were in his possession rages on.
Israel’s 11th prime minister clung to classified material from both his military and civilian posts. He took various IDF documents with him when he resigned from the army in the summer of 1973, as well as others from his reserve service during the 1973 Yom Kippur War and his term as defense minister in 1981-83.
Since his death, the head of the Defense Ministry’s security department, known in Hebrew as “Malmab,” has discussed the available legal options should Sharon’s sons continue rebuffing its demands that they turn over the documents. One option proposed having the police raid the Sharon family’s Sycamore Farm in order to expropriate the files, the Haaretz daily reported Tuesday.
State Comptroller Yosef Shapira is investigating a complaint regarding the Defense Ministry’s failure to retrieve the papers.
Malmab, tasked with securing sensitive state information, has conducted similar raids in the past. In the 1990s it ordered a raid on the office of former prime minister Levi Eshkol’s widow in order to seize documents that allegedly related to Israel’s nuclear program. After discovering that interviews with former senior IDF officers dealing with sensitive topics were stored at the Yitzhak Rabin Center, Malmab struck there as well.
By Israeli law, the retention of classified documents is illegal after the retirement of army officers and ministers alike.
Though Sharon never offered an explanation, it is assumed he sought to use these documents as leverage in his numerous legal and political battles, in addition to bolstering his perspective when the official histories of the Yom Kippur War and the 1982 Lebanon War were drafted.
Sharon died on January 11, eight years after a devastating stroke left him in a coma from which he never recovered. Regarded as one of Israel’s greatest and most divisive figures, Sharon rose through the ranks of the military, moving into politics and overcoming scandal and controversy to become a highly popular prime minister at the time of his stroke.
He was memorialized at a Knesset ceremony by President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US Vice President Joe Biden, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and other leaders and friends before being buried at his ranch, Sycamore Farm, in the western Negev, alongside the grave of his wife Lily.
He is survived by two sons, Omri and Gilad.