Former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon died at a hospital near Tel Aviv on Saturday, aged of 85, after spending eight years in a coma, his family and friends have said.
“Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has passed away at the age of 85,” wrote Ofir Gendelman, spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his official Twitter feed.
“He’s gone; he went when he decided to go,” his son Gilad said at the Sheba hospital near Tel Aviv, where his father had been treated, in remarks carried by Channel 2 television.
Sharon has been in a coma since January 4, 2006 after suffering a massive stroke. His condition took a sudden turn for the worse on January 1 when he suffered serious kidney problems after surgery.
Sharon was one of Israel’s most skilled but controversial political and military leaders, whose ruthless methods earned him the moniker “The Bulldozer”.
The veteran soldier fought in all of Israel’s major wars before embarking on a turbulent political career in 1973 which ended dramatically in January 2006 when he suffered a massive stroke and subsequent coma, from which he never recovered.