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Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Dead At 85

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon died Saturday at a hospital near Tel Aviv, where he's been for the past eight years.
Posted at 10:18 AM, Jan 11, 2014

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon died Saturday at a hospital near Tel Aviv, where he's been for the last eight years. (Via The White House / Paul Morse)

A massive stroke had left Sharon in a vegetative state since 2006, and his health had reportedly taken a turn for the worse with the start of the new year. (Via BBC)

Israeli hospital officials announced last week Sharon's health had deteriorated significantly and he was in "grave condition" with his family at his bedside. (Via Jewish News One)

His doctors say he had been suffering from multiple organ failures, including his kidneys, right before he died. He was 85 years old. (Via Euronews)

His son told reporters: "He has gone. He went when he decided to go." (Via Sky News)

Sharon, who is regarded as one of Israel's most iconic and controversial figures, was at the peak of his political power when the stroke put him into a coma.

As Al Jazeera puts it, "As one of Israel's most famous generals, he was known for bold tactics and an occasional refusal to obey orders."

After his military career ended in 1973, he went into politics, where he maintained those same aggressive characteristics. 

He was eventually dubbed "The Bulldozer" because of his ability to get things done, no matter what the cost. (Via The White House / Paul Morse)

Sharon was elected prime minister in 2001. And in 2005, despite his hard-line views, he led the country's historic withdrawal of Israeli troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip. (Via RT)

He later left the conservative Likud Party and established the centrist Kadima Party. It seemed like an easy re-election was in the cards when he suddenly suffered the stroke in January 2006 from which he never woke up.

Though doctors did see some significant brain activity in the comatose former prime minister in January 2013, the possibility of a full recovery had long been ruled out. (Via CNN)

According to The Guardian, Sharon is expected to be buried at his ranch in the Negev desert next to his wife's grave.

But first, his body will reportedly be taken to the Israeli parliament so members of the public can pay their respects before an official state burial.