Former Israel prime minister Ariel Sharon has passed away at the age of 85 after spending many years in a coma. Sharon had suffered a massive stoke in January 2006 that left him in a coma and on life support. Ariel Sharon died at 7 a.m. ET at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer with his family gathered at the hospital to be with him in this final moments.
Israel’s 11th premier passes away eight years after a stroke left him comatose; Sharon was one of Israel’s legendary politicians and military leaders; Sharon’s son Gilad: “He went when he decided to go.”
Former prime minister Ariel Sharon died on Saturday at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, days after his condition deteriorated dramatically.
Sharon would have turned 86 next month. His family gathered at the hospital to be with him in his final moments. His sons Omri and and Gilad had been by his side since his condition deteriorated on January 1.
Gilad Sharon reacted to the death of his father on Saturday, saying that “he went when he decided to go.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the nation bowed its head to a man he described as “first and foremost a brave soldier and an outstanding military commander” who “had a central role in the battle for Israel’s security from the very beginning.”
In many ways, Mr. Sharon’s story was that of his country. A champion of an iron-fisted, territory-expanding Zionism for most of his life, he stunned Israel and the world in 2005 with a Nixon-to-China reversal and withdrew all Israeli settlers and troops from Gaza. He then abandoned his Likud Party and formed a centrist movement called Kadima focused on further territorial withdrawal and a Palestinian state next door.
Mr. Sharon was incapacitated eight years ago, in January 2006, and in elections that followed, Kadima still won the most votes. His former deputy, Ehud Olmert, became prime minister. But the impact of Mr. Sharon’s political shift went beyond Kadima. The hawkish Likud Party, led by his rival, Mr. Netanyahu, was returned to power in 2009, and Mr. Netanyahu, too, said then that he favored a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
”My dear friend, Arik Sharon, lost his final battle today. Arik was a brave soldier and a daring leader who loved his nation and his nation loved him. He was one of Israel’s great protectors and most important architects, who knew no fear and certainly never feared vision. He knew how to take difficult decisions and implement them. We all loved him and he will be greatly missed. I send my condolences to the Sharon family, may he rest in peace.”
Statement from Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released a statement today on the passing of Sharon.
“Ariel Sharon gave his life to Israel — to bring it into being, to sustain and preserve it, and at the end of his long service, to create a new political party committed to both a just peace and lasting security,” the Clintons said in a statement. “It was an honor to work with him, argue with him, and watch him always trying to find the right path for his beloved country.”