Former Israeli Prime Mininster Ariel Sharon died after spending eight years in coma following a stroke.
‘Arik’ to his friends, the ‘Bulldozer’ to his critics.
Sharon was a commander of the Israeli army and fought in all of Israel’s major wars before beginning his political career after the 1973 war.
Sharon became the defense minister in 1981 and led the invasion of Lebanon a year later. He became the Prime Minister of Israel in 2001. A few months before slipping into coma, he completed a unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005. Sharon served as the prime minister throughout the most turbulent times in Israel-Palestine history.
He has been accused of war crimes and human rights abuses following the 1982 Lebanon war. The Sabra and Shatila massacre witnessed the killing of between 750 to 3500 civilians mostly from Lebanon and Palestine.
Sharon suffered his first stroke in December 2005. Seventeen days later, a bigger stroke left him in a vegetative state. Over the last one year, he suffered multiple organ failure. He spent months in a hospital in Jerusalem before being shifted to the Sheba Medical Centre, a long-term facility in Tel Aviv.
The soldier-politician was kept alive for eight years by a complicated network of ventilators and feeding tubes. Widowed twice, his sons Omri and Gilad tended to him while he was ill.
Ariel Sharon died aged 85 years on 11th January following multiple organ failure after spending eight years in coma. His funeral is expected to take place on 13 January in accordance with Jewish burial customs. He will be buried at his family’s ranch in the Negev desert besides his wife Lily, the younger sister of his first wife Margalit. Sharon is survived by his sons Omri and Gilad.
British Prime Minister, David Cameron said, “Ariel Sharon is one of the most significant figures in Israeli history and as Prime Minister he took brave and controversial decisions in pursuit of peace, before he was so tragically incapacitated. Israel has today lost an important leader.”