Quick Facts: Shimon Peres
- Shimon Peres was born Szymon Perski in 1923 in Belarus, then part of Poland, before immigrating to Palestine, then under British Mandate, in 1934.
- In 1948, Peres worked to supply weapons to the Israeli army and its forerunner, the Haganah, during Israel’s establishment, which were used to ethnically cleanse upwards of 750,000 Palestinians from their homes in order to create a Jewish majority state.
- In 1956, as Director-General of the Ministry of Defense, Peres was responsible for planning Israel’s invasion of Egypt, in conjunction with Britain and France, during the Suez Crisis. Following pressure from the United States, Israel was forced to withdraw from the Sinai Peninsula, which it occupied during the attack.
- During the 1950s and 1960s, Peres played a central role in Israel's secret nuclear program and development of atomic weapons.
- In the 1970s, as Minister of Defense, Peres was a key figure in the start of Israel's illegal settlement enterprise in the occupied Palestinian territories, overseeing the establishment of some of the first settlements in the West Bank.
- Also during the 1970s, Peres worked closely with apartheid South Africa, helping it acquire arms and develop nuclear weapons while much of the rest of the world was attempting to isolate the racist white regime.
- In 1996, while Peres was prime minister, Israel bombed a UN compound in the village of Qana in Southern Lebanon, killing more than 100 civilians who were seeking shelter there, and injuring more than 100 others. The UN and human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW), condemned what became known as the “Qana Massacre” as a violation of international law. In its report on the incident, Amnesty determined that Israel “intentionally attacked the UN compound,” while HRW stated that the Qana bombing and other Israeli attacks in Lebanon during “Operation Grapes of Wrath” raised “grave concerns about Israel's compliance with the laws of war.”