The major events in the life of Ariel Sharon:

1928: Born to Russian immigrants in a farming community outside Tel Aviv on Feb. 26. 

1948: After fighting in a Jewish militia opposed to British control, serves with distinction in Israel's war of independence with Arab states. 

1953: Heads Unit 101, a force carrying out reprisals for slaying of Israeli woman and her two children. In October, Sharon's troops blow up more than 40 houses in Qibya, a village in the West Bank, then ruled by Jordan. Sixty-nine Arabs die, about half of them women and children. Sharon says later he thought houses were empty. 

1956: Rebuked after engaging his troops in what his commanders regard as unnecessary and unplanned battle with Egyptian forces at Mitla Pass in Sinai Peninsula. 

1967: Receives broad praise for his command of an armored division in the Mideast War, in which Israel captures the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula. 

1971: Placed in charge of curbing terrorism in Gaza Strip. More than 100 suspected militants killed and hundreds detained. Attacks by Palestinians go from 34 in June to one in December. 

1973: Commands drive by Israeli troops across the Suez Canal into Egypt during Mideast war. The daring assault cuts off Egypt's 3rd Army and helps turn the tide in fighting, establishing his reputation as war hero to many. 

1970s, 80s, early 90s: As government minister, leads push to build dozens of Jewish settlements in West Bank and Gaza Strip, despite Palestinian and international protest. Settlements are one of most contentious issues in current peace negotiations. However, when Israel has to return the Sinai desert to Egypt in 1982, Sharon overrides resistance from Jewish settlers and has their homes bulldozed to rubble. 

1982: As defense minister, engineers Israel's invasion of Lebanon. It is portrayed as quick, limited strike to drive Palestinian fighters from Israel's northern border. However, Israeli troops advance to outskirts of Beirut and war escalates. Israeli-allied Christian militia kill hundreds of Palestinians at refugee camps in west Beirut, sparking international outrage that leads to Sharon losing his job. Fighting in Lebanon lasts 18 years, until Barak unilaterally withdraws Israeli troops in May 2000. 

2000: Sharon visits the disputed Temple Mount Sept. 28 to emphasize Israel's claim of sovereignty. Muslims, who call the site the Noble Sanctuary, are outraged, and widespread violence breaks out a day later. The bloodshed sparks a political crisis in Israel, leading to Barak's resignation. Sharon wins a landslide victory over Barak in Feb. 6, 2001, election for prime minister.