Former Sharon aide kisses his coffin
Former Sharon aide kisses his coffinFlash 90

Two hours before Ariel Sharon was scheduled to be buried, the large crowd expected at the funeral ceremony had not materialized. Only a few dozen people had showed up at Havat Hashikmim – Sycamore Ranch – in the Negev, where the legendary general and former prime minister was to be laid to rest, reported Maariv-NRG.

The civilians who came to pay their last respects were far outnumbered by hundreds of police and ushers at Givat Hakalaniyot, where Sharon will be laid to rest next to his late wife, Lily.

Organizers even gave instructions to some of the people employed at the funeral to take part in the event as if they were regular members of the crowd, so as to honor the occasion with a more respectable showing.

The reasons for the surprisingly poor showing are not known, but several likely causes come to mind: one, Sharon has been in a vegetative state for eight long years, and his death does not have the same effect on people that it would have otherwise had.

The other possible reason is Sharon's highly polarized political legacy.

His traditional supporters, the Israeli nationalists, were bitterly disappointed by his decision to ethnically-cleanse the Jewish communities of Gaza and northern Samaria in 2005. On the other hand, the Israeli Left - though highly supportive of his 2005 "Disengagement Plan" - staunchly opposed his legacy of "settlement building" in Judea and Samaria, as well as his reputation as a ruthless military commander.