Ex-Prime Minister of Israel, Dies at 85

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After eight years being in a coma, Ariel Sharon, the man who put Israel?s security above his own, died last January 11?at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Avic, suburb of Tel Hashomer. It was in January 2006, during his fifth year as prime minister, when Sharon suffered a major stroke that left him comatose.

According to medical experts, it is remarkable that the former prime minister of Israel had stayed alive in vegetative state for so long. Dr. James Bernat, a professor of neurology at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire said that it was uncommon for Sharon to survive that long if not for the aggressive care that doctors provided him.

Israelis mourned the loss of a hero. Sharon was dubbed by his fellowmen as ?The King of Isareal? and ?The Lion of God? after his assault of the Sinnai in the Six-Day war and his encirclement of the Egyptian Third Army in the Yom Kippur War.

Sharon was also a major figure in many wars. From being a commander of the Unit 101 commando platoon, he rose from the ranks and became a Defense Minister. He repeatedly led his troops into controversial and blood-soaked operations such as the Qibya action in Jordan, the battle for Mitla Pass during the Sinai Campaign of 1956, and the conquest of Beirut in the first Lebanon war. He encouraged the spirit of Israel Defense Forces, culminating in the crossing of the Suez Canal that tipped the scales in the Yom Kippur War in October 1973.

Throughout his career in the military, he was considered the greatest field commander and military strategist in Israel?s history. He became a prime minister in 2001 after defeating the Labour incumbent, Ehud Barak, in the elections. After he won, he pledged to suppress the Palestinian rebellion. In 2003, he strengthened his power by leading the Likud, a major-center right party in Israel, to a historical electoral victory over its Labour rivals.

Many, however, also criticized Sharon. He was called a killer in the Arab world after the 1982 massacres by Christian militiamen at two Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut.

Dov Weissglass, a former chief of staff of Sharon during his tenure as Prime Minister, said that that his former boss?s legacy in office was far more important than any criticism. ?From 2001, when he became Prime Minister, more and more people have learned to appreciate him as a political leader, as a premier and most of all for political courage.? ?People are longing for his personality, for his leadership,? added Weisglass.

Sharon is survived by his sons, Gilad and Omri.


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