Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Has Died

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has died at age 85 according to Reuters, which is citing Israeli Army radio. His son has confirmed his passing, according to The Associated Press.

He had been in a coma for 8 years after suffering a stroke, and had reportedly been in worsening condition for several days.

He is survived by his sons Omri and Gilad Yehuda and several grandchildren.

Sharon entered a coma in 2006 after suffering a stroke while in office. His health deteriorated recently, leading to renal failure earlier this month.

Sharon was born in 1928 in what was then Palestine. He joined a Jewish paramilitary organisation at 14, an association with the military that would carry throughout his life. He would go on to a long career in the military, starting with the war for independence in 1948, eventually reaching the rank of Major General. For his involvement in the Six Day War in 1967 and the Yom Kippur War in 1973, Sharon earned the nickname “The King of Israel” and “The Lion of God.”

In the 1970s, Sharon joined the right-wing Likud party and served in a variety of capacities over the next 30 years, before becoming Israel’s Prime Minister from 2001 to 2006.

As Prime Minister, Sharon orchestrated Israel’s unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip, despite opposition from his own party. In November 2005, Sharon left Likud to form the new Kadima party. His 2006 stroke occurred just months before Sharon was expected to win a new election.

Many believed that, shortly before his stroke, Sharon was planning on attempting to achieve peace with Palestine on Israeli terms by withdrawing Israel out of the West Bank, according to NPR correspondent Mike Shuster.

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