Sharon himself was often blamed for helping to ignite the uprising by visiting a site in east Jerusalem sacred to Jews and Muslims alike when tensions surrounding the peace talks were at their highest. He further inflamed tensions by maintaining an apartment in the heart of the Muslim quarter of Old Jerusalem – and hanging a large Israeli flag from it.
As a response to the second intifada, Sharon's government embraced building a security barrier separating the mostly Jewish populations of Israel and occupied territories in the West Bank from the Palestinians of the West Bank.
The barrier, which now twists and turns for hundreds of miles, has been successful in all but eliminating attacks inside Israel by Palestinian terrorists. Palestinian officials argue it has allowed Israel essentially to illegally annex Palestinian land.
Sharon decision to unilaterally withdrawal from Gaza stunned and infuriated political supporters who saw it as concession without getting anything from the Palestinians in return. Sharon then left the right-wing Likud Party to form a new centrist Kadima party. His stroke just months later ended his career.
Sharon's doctors wanted nature to take its course. Sharon's sons insisted that surgeons fight to keep the Israeli leader alive. Several operations saved Sharon's life – and that he managed to live for so long afterward was something of medical marvel. But he never regained consciousness.
In a 2011 book, Sharon's son Gilad revealed for the first time why he and his brother sought to keep their father alive. He told doctors of a dream he had years earlier.
"In that dream I was with my father in the hospital. He was lying in bed, surrounded by medical staff, and they had all either given up or lost hope and were about to leave, and my father didn't say a thing, but he stared at me with this look, with those green-gray eyes of his, and I knew I would never give up, and that I simply would not leave him," he wrote.
He added: "This was a dream I had when my father was healthy and strong and the scenario was completely divorced from reality. I did not tell a soul about the dream at the time, but now I shared it with them and my fear that it was happening now and that I would never be able to forgive myself if we did not fight to the end."