Tributes have poured in to mark the death of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who passed away aged 85 following a stroke that caused him to slip into a coma 8 years ago at the height of his premiership.
The condition of Mr Sharon, who played a key role in shaping Israel both as an army general and politician, began to decline rapidly following serious kidney problems following surgery on the 1st of January.
Announcing his death at Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv earlier today, Mr Sharon’s son Gilad said “That’s it. He’s gone. He went when he decided to go.”
“My dear friend, Arik Sharon, lost his final battle today,” said President Shimon Peres of the 11th Israeli Prime Minister. “Arik was a brave soldier and a daring leader who loved his nation and his nation loved him. He was one of Israel’s great protectors and most important architects, who knew no fear and certainly never feared vision.”
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Ariel Sharon is one of the most significant figures in Israeli history and as prime minister he took brave and controversial decisions in pursuit of peace, before he was so tragically incapacitated. Israel has today lost an important leader.”
Labour leader Ed Miliband added: “Ariel Sharon was a figure who dominated Israeli politics for a generation. Nobody can doubt the impact he had on Middle East politics.”
US President Barack Obama also offered his condolences, stating: “We join with the Israeli people in honouring his commitment to his country.”
Mr Sharon’s body will lie in Knesset on Sunday from noon to allow the public to pay their respects before a formal mourning ceremony on Monday attended by state leaders.