UK & World News

  • 1 January 2014, 23:01

Ariel Sharon: Ex-Israeli PM's Health Worsens

The hospital treating former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, who has been in a coma since 2006, says his condition has worsened.

Israeli media said the 85-year-old was suffering from kidney problems and was in a life-threatening condition. His family was reportedly at the hospital.

Amir Marom, a spokesman for Tel Hashomer hospital near Tel Aviv, where Sharon has been treated for most of the past eight years, said Sharon's medical condition had "deteriorated in the past few days". He refused to elaborate.

Sharon was at the height of his political power when a devastating stroke incapacitated him. Since then, he has been in a vegetative state, connected to a respirator. His family has said he sometimes opens his eyes and moves his fingers.

In September, Sharon underwent surgery to insert a new feeding tube.

Sharon is one of Israel's most iconic and controversial figures.

As a general, he was known for bold tactics and an occasional refusal to obey orders. As a politician he became known as "the bulldozer", a man contemptuous of his critics while also capable of getting things done.

A prominent hard-line voice over the decades and a leading player in building Jewish settlements in captured territories, he was elected prime minister in 2001.

In 2005, he directed a unilateral withdrawal of Israeli troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip, ending a 38-year military control of the territory.