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Former Israeli PM Sharon 'critically ill'

By Agencies in Tel Aviv | China Daily | Updated: 2014-01-03 08:35

Former Israeli prime minister and ex-general Ariel Sharon, who has been in a coma since a stroke in 2006, slipped closer to death on Thursday after a sharp decline his health.

Reviled by Arabs for his hardline policies and viewed with a mixture of respect and suspicion by many Israelis, 85-year-old Sharon has been on life support at Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv for the past eight years, far from the public gaze.

"I am no prophet, but the feeling of his doctors and his sons ... is that there has been a change for the worse," Sheba director Zeev Rotstein said.

In the first official medical statement on Sharon's condition after reports on Wednesday that he had suffered a kidney malfunction, Rotstein said doctors expect a deterioration in several life-sustaining organs.

"We are defining his condition as critical, and there is definitely a threat to his life," he said.

Sharon's two sons were at his bedside, doctors said, and a state funeral was planned.

One of Israel's most famous generals, Sharon left his mark on the region through military invasion, Jewish settlement building on captured land and a shock, unilateral decision to pull Israeli troops and settlers out of the Gaza Strip in 2005.

"As a prime minister he took a very brave step in leaving the (Gaza) settlements," said Anat Harel, 25, a computer science student in the southern town of Ashkelon.

In the Gaza Strip, Khalil al-Hayya, a Hamas leader, spoke bitterly of a man the movement sees as one of the Palestinians' worst enemies. "Ariel Sharon is going the same direction as other tyrants and criminals whose hands were covered in Palestinian blood."


(China Daily 01/03/2014 page11)

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