DAN WILLIAMS
Reuters
January 11, 2014

Ariel Sharon, the trailblazing former Israeli general and prime minister who was in a coma for eight years after he suffering a stroke at the height of his power, died on Saturday aged 85, his family and the government said.

Sharon’s son Gilad announced the death at the hospital where his father had been treated. Doctors there had predicted his imminent death after his health declined sharply last week.

Ministers in Israel’s right-wing government, and the political opposition, mourned a tough and wily leader who left big footprints 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.

“The nation of Israel has today lost a dear man, a great leader and a bold warrior,” Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said in a statement.

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