On 1950 Ariel Sharon is trained as a regiment commander and later becomes chief intelligence officer of the Northern Command. Sharon is frustrated by the weakness and helplessness of Israel in the face of Arab incursions in Israeli communities.
At that time, Moshe Dayan is appointed Head of the Northern Command and asks Sharon to look into the possibility of abducting two Jordanian Legion soldiers in response to the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers. Sharon does not waist time. He acts that same night. He goes with another soldier, Shlomo Gruber, to Sheikh Hussein Bridge, which is over the Jordan River. Sharon and Gruber sneak close to the Jordanian guard hut, capture two guards, and smuggle them at gun point back to the Israeli side. Sharon then goes to Moshe Dayan’s chamber and reports that two Jordanian soldiers are locked in the confinement facility. Dayan is astounded by Sharon’s swift and successful action and praises him.
On 1952 Sharon takes a leave from the army and begins to study Middle East history in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. During this time as a student, Sharon is appointed commander of a reserve regiment in the Jerusalem Brigade. In this capacity, he takes action against the women villagers of Katana, who cross the border to Israel on their way to draw water from a well. Sharon orders his troops to ambush the women and in addition deploys a mortar unit nearby, in case the Jordanian artillery will respond to the shooting. Everything goes as planned. That night, four Israeli officers kill two women villagers on their way draw water from the well. Jordanian mortar units open fire on Israeli communities, and Sharon’s mortar unit fires back. UN inspectors, who are there to maintain the cease fire, put an end to the incident.
Sharon’s frustration keeps building, as IDF squads fail to efficiently respond to Arab hostility and the government tends to favor restraint to action.
On June 1953, Golani Brigade commander, Mishael Shaham, gets the General Headquarter’s permission to act against the Arab village of Nebi Samuel, in which resides Mustafa Samuel, head of an Arab militia. Shaham asks Sharon to form a squad and attack Mustafa Samuel. Sharon acts immediately. He recruits seven men. They are briefed, handed guns and ammunition and are on their way. Sharon and his men succeed only partially – they detonate one building at the outskirts of the village and then return. Shaham, however, is pleased. In light of what other IDF squads have achieved, it is considered a success: Sharon’s force reached the target, detonated a building and safely returned to base.
Following this operation, Shaham asks David Ben Gurion’s military secretary to authorize the forming of a special force which would operate beyond the cease fire lines, as retribution for the Arab aggression. The General Headquarters is convened and authorizes the request. Moshe Dayan, Head of Operations Department in IDF, appoints Ariel Sharon to command this special force. Sharon quits his history studies and recruits about 40 soldiers who would form the new commando force – Unit 101. Unit 101’s mission is to infiltrate into neighboring Jordan and Gaza and mount reprisal raids against Arab civilians and troops.
For several months Sharon trains the soldiers and then gradually sends them to patrol and ambush missions beyond the border. Ariel Sharon proves to be a a natural leader. He knows how to make his troops feel that everything depends on them; that if they don’t do it, no one will. He demonstrates initiative and resourcefulness, planning and originality.The soldiers carry out their missions dressed as civilians, with no radios, no medics and no rescue plans. At the same time Sharon tries to get a green light from the General Headquarters to launch a large scale operation.
On September 1953 the General Headquarters orders Unit 101 to drive Bedouins out from the Negev and push them southward to Sinai. Unit 101 soldiers act aggressively: they raid the Bedouin camp, shooting aimlessly, confiscating arms and burning tents. The Bedouins run away, leaving many wounded behind. For a few days Unit 101 pursuits the Bedouins until they are out of the Negev.
Ariel Sharon relentlessly asks the General Headquarters to authorize more retribution acts in the face of Arab incursions from Gaza and Sinai. The General Headquarters gives the go-ahead to attack Al-Bureij refugee camp in Gaza. Unit 101 attacks. 15 Arabs are dead, among them women and children. When the operation results are analyzed, Sharon blatantly dismisses criticism by Unit 101 soldiers for killing innocent civilians. He says: “The women are whores. They serve the Arab militia men who infiltrate into our communities and attack the citizens of our country. If we don’t act against the refugee camp, it would become a murderers’ nest.”
On the night of October 13, 1953, Arab militia men called Fedayeen, infiltrate into the Israeli village of Yahud and kill Suzanne Kinyas and two of her children in their sleep. This murderous attack brings the toll of Israeli civilian victims to 124. IDF’s high command singles out the Jordanian village of Qibia as the target for the retribution act. This village is known to harbor terrorists. Ariel Sharon, Unit 101 commander, gets orders to attack the village, capture it temporarily, detonate houses, and cause as much casualties as possible.
An operation force is formed. It comprises of a paratrooper company and Unit 101. Sharon goes to Qibya with 600 Kilograms of explosives.
In Qibya, Sharon’s soldiers detonate 45 houses without thoroughly checking first that they are empty. They presume that everyone had escaped. As a result, 69 people are dead; half of them women and children who hid in the detonated houses. On the Israeli side there are no casualties other than one soldier who’s slightly wounded.
Shimon Kahaner, one of the fighters in Unit 101, says: “Qibya was a case when things went differently than planned. What happened there is that once the village was taken over, many of the men ran away. They let the women and the children in the homes. We didn’t employ the method which we adopted later of checking the houses before exploding them. Once our troops saw that the men left, they called people out and when they stopped coming out, the houses were blown up and apparently there were women and children in some of them.”
Ariel Sharon’s version is this: “I was myself there with the Unit, and I myself checked most of the buildings that were destroyed, and I didn’t see anybody there.”
On October 19, 1953, Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion blatantly lies to the nation in a radio broadcast and says that no IDF unit had left its base on the night of the attack on Qibya and that it seems as though it was done by a group of local Israeli villagers.
After the attack on Qibya, Sharon keeps sending Unit 101 squads to limited patrol missions, deep in enemy territory.
Unit 101 soldiers develop a deep sense of brotherhood but at the same time they also develop a sense of arrogance and contempt for other IDF forces. One Saturday, Military Police pulls over a Unit 101 soldier for driving an army car without proper authorization. The soldier is angry and talks down to the MP’s. The hot-headed MP’s take the soldier out of the car and beat him. The soldier then gathers his friends from Unit 101 and they go on a vengeance mission and beat the Military Police officers in their head quarters in Tiberias. This incident is investigated but the assaulting soldiers from Unit 101 go unpunished.
On January 1954, Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan merges Unit 101 with the paratroopers regiment and appoints Ariel Shraon as commander of this reinforced regiment. Sharon introduces a very demanding training schedule, including long marches, cross country running, hand to hand combat, and simulating movement in enemy zone. Soon the regiment enjoys a reputation of an elite force.
During the first months under Sharon’s command, the regiment conducts patrol missions and small scale raids in Jordan. In one of these operations Sharon gets hit in his thigh by a bullet.
An irregular incident takes place on the night of March 4, 1955, when several senior regiment officers, under the leadership of Meir Har Tzion, go to Jordan to avenge the killing of Har Tzion’s sister by Arab militia men. Har Tzion and his fellow men capture five Bedouins and slit their throats. Meir Har Tzion is arrested and investigated for this personal revenge. Three weeks later he is released. Meir Amit, Head of General Headquarters Department, questions Sharon about assisting Har Tzion logistically. Sharon denies.
On 1955 a series of horrendous terrorist acts is committed against the Israeli population by Fedayeen. Public pressure is built to retaliate with great force. On February 1955, paratroopers under Ariel Sharon’s command raid an Egyptian military base in Gaza, kill 38 soldiers and wound four. Eight Israeli paratroopers are dead. The attack brings Egyptian President, Gamal Abdel Nasser, to the conclusion that there’s no chance of achieving peace with Israel.
On October 27, 1955, the paratroopers regiment is on a mission to capture the Kuntila Fortress in Sinai, deep in Egyptian territory. The force kills ten Egyptian soldiers and captures twenty nine. Casualties on the Israeli side: two dead, two wounded.
On December 1955 Sharon is assigned to plan an attack on Syrian posts near the Sea of Galilee, in response to Syrian shooting on Israeli fishermen. Sharon commands a complex operation force, including infantry, paratroopers and air and naval support. The force kills 56 Syrian soldiers, wounds 32 and captures 2. Casualties on the Israeli side: 6 dead, 12 wounded.
IDF is reorganized and the paratroopers regiment becomes the 202nd Paratroopers Brigade. On the night of October 10, 1956, the brigade is on a mission to attack the Kalkilia Police compound on Jordan territory, in response to the killing of three Jewish workers by Jordanian infiltrators. IDF launches an artillery weakening blow. Then, a paratroopers regiment under the command of Mordechai Gur (Motta) captures the police compound, clears it and detonates it. A Jordanian reinforcement is on its way, but is stopped by an Israeli ambush set by Yehuda Reshef’s regiment. Reshef’s regiment pushes the Jordanian reinforcement back, and retreats. But then Reshef realizes that he is surrounded by enemy units. Israeli artillery tries to push back the Jordanian forces which encircle Reshef’s soldiers but to no avail. Sharon quickly sends a rescue team, but on their way back with Reshef’s regiment they fall into a Jordanian ambush. It takes a fierce battle to overcome the Jordanian force and return to the Israeli side. End result of this operation: 88 Jordanian soldiers are dead. IDF Casualties: 18 dead, and more then 50 wounded. The Kalkilia operation is the last Retribution Act.