Israelis had been alerted on January 1 that Mr Sharon’s life was in danger after his kidneys and other vital organs began to fail as a result of an infection. His health had declined for the past week and a half, Sheba Medical Centre Director Professor Shlomo Noy told reporters.
“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.”One of his two sons, Gilad Sharon, said outside the hospital: “He has gone. He went when he decided to go.” The former leader had been kept alive for the previous eight years by a complicated network of ventilators and feeding tubes. He had been in a persistent vegetative state since suffering a massive stroke in 2006 that inflicted severe brain damage.
Nicknamed ‘The Bulldozer’, the veteran soldier fought in all of Israel’s major wars before beginning a turbulent political career in 1973. Long considered a pariah for his personal but “indirect” responsibility for the 1982 massacre of hundreds of Palestinians by Israel’s Lebanese Phalangist allies in Beirut’s Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, he was elected premier in 2001.
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