Former Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, who suffered a stroke in 2006, has died Saturday after spending the last eight years of his life in coma at the Tel Hashomer hospital, outside Tel Aviv.
His death at the age of 85 was first reported by Israeli Army radio.
Sharon was born February 26, 1928 in the then British Mandate of Palestine to a family of Lithuanian Jews. By the age of 10, he had entered the Zionist youth movement, Hassadeh, and later the Haganah, the military precursor to the Israel Defense Forces.
His military career flourished as he became a commander in the Israeli army and celebrated as a military strategist.
He was an instrumental figure in the 1956 Suez War, the Six Day War of 1967, the Yom Kippur War of 1973 and as minister of defense directed the 1982 Lebanon War, before venturing into politics and being elected prime minister in 2001.
He, however, suffered a stroke in January 2006 at the height of his political power and remained comatose since then. Earlier, he suffered a mild stroke in December 2005 and was released from the hospital after two days, but a little more than two weeks later he suffered a massive intra cerebral hemorrhage from which he never recovered.
In the months leading up to his stroke, Sharon had shocked his political base by expelling Jewish settlers from 21 Gaza settlements and from four on the West Bank
He also resigned as head of the Likud party and formed a new centrist party called Kadima (“Forward”).
Sharon’s longtime rival and current prime minister, Netanyahu, was elected his replacement as head of Likud.
Widowed twice, he is survived by his sons Gilad and Omri.