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News > World

Shimon Peres, a Founder of Israel, Has Died

  • Former Israeli President Shimon Peres

    Former Israeli President Shimon Peres | Photo: Reuters

Published 27 September 2016

Peres was one of the last living founders of the state of Israel.

Shimon Peres, one of the founders of the state of Israel who has prime minister presided over the bombing of refugees at a U.N. compound in Lebanon, died at a hospital in Tel Aviv on Wednesday morning two weeks after suffering a stroke. He was 93.

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A Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Peres suffered a stroke on Sept. 13 and was put in a medically induced coma.

In a career spanning nearly seven decades, Peres, 93, served in a dozen cabinets and twice as a Labour Party prime minister, even though he never won a general election outright in five tries from 1977 to 1996. He later served as president, a largely ceremonial role in Israel, from 2007-2014, before leaving politics.

Peres shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Israel's late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for a 1993 interim peace deal that they and their successors failed to turn into a durable treaty.

While he is largely known as a “dove” in a country founded on ethnic cleansing, Peres oversaw one of Israel’s ugliest war crimes in its history.

In April 1996, as he was facing a major right-wing backlash at home over his peace deal with the Palestinians, and in the middle of an election campaign, he unleashed “Operation Grapes of Wrath,” causing 400,000 Lebanese to flee their homes, with almost 800 of them fleeing to a U.N. base in Qana, South Lebanon.

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In order to challenge the “dove” label and appease the right, Peres did not stop there and ordered the army to strike the Qana shelter, killing 102 civilians, mainly women, children and the elderly.

“In my opinion," Peres said at the time, "everything was done according to clear logic and in a responsible way. I am at peace.” However, the United Nations and human rights organizations debunked his government’s claim that the strike against the camp was not intentional.

Before converting from a pro-war politician to a peace-loving dove in 1977, a change of heart he said was a result of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's visit to Israel and subsequent peace treaty with Tel Aviv, Peres said Israel had the right to keep land gained during war, such as the Syrian Golan Heights, in contravention of international law.

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