Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has died at the age of 85. He spent the past eight years in a coma after suffering a severe stroke. Sharon was both loved and hated in Israel for his efforts in reshaping the Middle East. He will be remembered as both a political figure and a battlefield general who, despite his critics, was almost always able to complete what he set out to accomplish.
The head of the Sheba Medical Center, located near Tel Aviv, reports that Ariel Sharon died on Saturday afternoon their time, of heart failure. Sheba Medical Center Director Professor Shlomo Noy explained to reporters gathered outside the hospital that Sharon's health had made a fast decline during the past week.
"Over the past week he struggled with surprising strength and determination against the deterioration in his condition. Today he departed peacefully with his loving family at his side," he explained.
Professor Noy went on to say the former prime minister had experienced many "ups and downs" in the years since his stroke in 2006.
Ariel Sharon led Israel during some of the most turbulent times in that country's history. Often referred to as "the bulldozer," he witnessed a Palestinian uprising follow failed peace talks in 2000 and the tough military response that followed. He was known, too, as a tough warrior who led "decisive campaigns" during Israeli wars in bothh 1967 and 1973.
Sharon was widowed twice. Interestingly his second wife was his first wife's sister. He had three children and is survived by two sons. It will certainly be interesting to see how Israel mourns the passing of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
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