Sharon, who died on Saturday at the age of 85 after remaining in coma for eight years, will be laid to rest beside his wife Lily at Anemones Hill nearby the family's northern Negev Sycamore Ranch on Monday evening.

Police plan to deploy 800 officers, border policemen and volunteers to secure the funeral venue which is just six miles from the Gaza Strip, security sources here said.

Bracing up for extreme eventualities, the Israel Air Force and the Iron Dome missile defence systems will be ready to protect the funeral from any possible attacks.

According to media reports, Iron Dome batteries had been specially deployed for the ceremony.

Media reports also claimed that two rockets were fired from Gaza into open areas causing no injuries, but an army spokesman denied the report.

Gaza erupted in joy after hearing the news of Sharon's death with people distributing sweets on the streets and Hamas leaders welcoming his death calling him a war criminal.

Biden and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair are among 20 world leaders expected to attend the funeral.

Sharon, a hardliner revered by Israelis as ‘Mr Security’ for his contributions in all the major wars fought by Tel Aviv and reviled across the Arab world as the ‘butcher of Sabra and Shatila’, was elected prime minister in 2001 and served until he suffered a stroke that left him comatose in January 2006.

A controversial military leader, Sharon had a long and tumultuous political career and his ruthless methods earned him the moniker ‘The Bulldozer’.

While serving as defence minister in 1982, he masterminded Israel's invasion of Lebanon. During the invasion, Lebanese Christian militiamen allied to Israel massacred hundreds of Palestinians in two Beirut refugee camps, Sabra and Shatila, under Israeli control.

Sharon was the first Israeli Prime Minister to visit India in 2003, eleven years after the two countries established diplomatic ties.


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