Former Israeli PM Ariel Sharon dies after years in coma

[] — Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon died Saturday at the age of 85 after spending the last eight years in a coma after suffering a stroke in 2006, his former office confirmed. He died “peacefully” with his family by his side at the Sheba Medical Centre in Jerusalem after suffering heart failure, the doctor treating him said.

He had suffered a stroke in January 2006 and had been in a coma ever since but in the last 100 days, he became unresponsive in hospital. His tenure as Israel’s 11th prime minister legally ended on April 14, 2006, when the Israeli cabinet named Ehud Olmert Interim PM.

Known as “The Bulldozer” in Israel and “The butcher of Beirut” elsewhere, Sharon’s death created fascinating reaction around the world–he was hated by Palestinians but idolized in Israel. Scottish journalist David MacDougall quoted a Hamas official calling the late Jewish leader a ‘criminal’ who was responsible for the deaths of Muslims:

Israeli President Shimon Peres reacted to Sharon’s death via Twitter calling him a brave soldier who loved his country. “My dear friend, Arik Sharon, lost his final battle today. I send my condolences to the Sharon family, may he rest in peace,” he said. “Arik was a brave soldier and a daring leader who loved his nation and his nation loved him.”

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