Ariel Sharon dies at 85

Former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon has died, his son has confirmed.

Ariel Sharon dies at 85

Former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon has died, his son has confirmed.

Sharon, 85, had been in a coma since a debilitating stroke eight years ago.

The Sheba Medical Center that has been treating Sharon said last week that his health has been declining. Sharon had been suffering from failure of his vital organs including his kidneys shortly before his death.

His son Gilad Sharon said: “He has gone. He went when he decided to go.”

Here is a selection of reactions from world leaders and others to the death of former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, who was both admired and despised for his bold style and hard-driving tactics.

“Ariel Sharon is one of the most significant figures in Israeli history and as prime ,inister he took brave and controversial decisions in pursuit of peace, before he was so tragically incapacitated. Israel has today lost an important leader.” – British Prime Minister David Cameron

“He wanted to erase the Palestinian people from the map... He wanted to kill us, but at the end of the day, Sharon is dead and the Palestinian people are alive.” – Tawfik Tirawi, who served as Palestinian intelligence chief when Sharon was prime minister.

“After eight years, he is going in the same direction as other tyrants and criminals whose hands were covered with Palestinian blood.” – Khalil al-Haya, a leader in Islamic militant group Hamas.

Russian President Vladimir Putin “highly praised Ariel Sharon’s personal qualities and his activities to protect Israel’s interests, noting a high respect for him among compatriots and his high authority in the international arena.” – The Kremlin.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel “is mourning with the Israeli people” for Sharon. “With his courageous decision to withdraw the Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip, he took a historic step on the path to a deal with the Palestinians and a two-state solution.” – Steffen Seibert, Mrs Merkel’s spokesman.

“His passing is another grim reminder that years of virtual impunity for rights abuses have done nothing to bring Israeli-Palestinian peace any closer.” - Leah Whitson, Middle East Director of Human Rights Watch.

“Today, a strong leader has gone and my thoughts also go to his family.” - Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

“Ariel Sharon’s last battle is now over... Sharon was literally from the beginning a tireless defender of his beloved homeland, Israel.” – German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Events in the life of Ariel Sharon:

:: February 26, 1928 – Born to Russian immigrants in farming community of Kfar Malal north of Tel Aviv.

:: 1948 – Having joined Jewish guerrillas at the age of 14 in war against British rule in Palestine, Sharon serves with distinction in Israel’s war of independence and is severely wounded in battle.

:: 1953 – Heads Unit 101, a force carrying out reprisals for Palestinian attacks. After killing of Israeli woman and her two children, Sharon’s troops blow up more than 40 houses in Qibya, a village in the Jordan-ruled West Bank. Sixty-nine Arabs die, about half of them women and children. Sharon says later he thought the houses were empty.

:: 1956 – Rebuked after engaging his troops in what commanders regard as unnecessary and unplanned battle with Egyptian forces at Mitla Pass in Sinai Peninsula.

:: 1957 – Studies at Staff College in Britain.

:: 1967 – Receives broad praise for command of armoured division in Israel’s Six-Day War, in which Israel captures West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights and Sinai Peninsula.

:: 1971 – Placed in charge of curbing Arab violence in Gaza Strip. More than 100 suspected militants killed and hundreds detained. Attacks by Palestinians go from 34 in June to one in December.

:: 1973 – Commands drive by Israeli troops across Suez Canal into Egypt during Mideast war. Daring assault cuts off Egypt’s 3rd Army and helps turn tide in fighting. His head grazed by bullet during fighting.

:: December 1973: Elected to parliament on Likud ticket.

:: 1974 – Resigns from Parliament.

:: 1975 – Appointed by prime minister Yitzhak Rabin as an adviser on security affairs.

:: 1977: Likud wins election and is joined by Sharon, who has been elected to parliament on separate ticket.

:: 1977-81 – As Menachem Begin’s agriculture minister, begins push to build dozens of Jewish settlements in West Bank and Gaza Strip, despite Palestinian and international protest. Settlements are one of most contentious issues in current peace negotiations.

:: April 25, 1982 – As defence minister, overrides resistance from Jewish settlers in Yamit settlement during Israeli withdrawal from Sinai Peninsula, and has their homes bulldozed to rubble.

:: June 6, 1982 – Engineers Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, portraying it as quick, limited strike to drive Palestinian fighters from Israel’s northern border. But Israeli troops advance to outskirts of Beirut and war escalates. Fighting continues in southern Lebanon until Israel withdraws in 2000.

:: September 16-18, 1982 – Loses job as defence minister after Israeli-allied Christian militia kills hundreds of Palestinians at refugee camps in west Beirut, sparking international outrage.

:: 1986 – Sharon wins libel suit against Time Magazine in US, where a jury finds the magazine made a factual error in claiming a secret Israeli report said Sharon had discussed revenge with Lebanese officials before the massacre. But the jury says Time is not liable for monetary damages.

:: 1997 – An Israeli court dismisses another libel suit filed by Sharon against an Israeli journalist who wrote that Sharon had deceived former prime minister Menachem Begin in leading the country to war. An appeal is also rejected.

:: September 28, 2000 – As opposition leader, Sharon visits Jerusalem’s Temple Mount to emphasize Israel’s claim of sovereignty. Muslims, who call site the Noble Sanctuary, erupt in violence. Palestinians say Sharon’s visit triggered resumption of uprising, while his supporters contend violence was already planned by Palestinians.

:: February 6, 2001 – In midst of political crisis, wins landslide victory over premier Ehud Barak in election for prime minister.

:: 2003 – Wins early elections and remains prime minister. Later starts construction of Israel’s separation barrier in West Bank in response to wave of Palestinian suicide bombings.

:: February 8, 2005 – Announces, with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, cease-fire in Palestinian uprising.

:: August 17, 2005 – Begins unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and small part of West Bank, after reversing decades of support for Jewish settlement construction and expansion.

:: November 2005 – Amid growing dissent within Likud over Gaza withdrawal, leaves party with many key allies to found centrist Kadima with eye on elections set for following March 28.

:: December 18, 2005 – Suffers mild stroke, leaves hospital two days later.

:: January 4, 2006 – On eve of scheduled heart procedure, suffers massive stroke and falls into coma.

:: May 28, 2006 – Sharon, still in a coma, is transferred from Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem to a long-term-care facility at Tel Aviv’s Chaim Sheba Medical Center.

:: August 14, 2006 – Doctors announce that his condition has greatly deteriorated.

:: November 12, 2010 – Sharon is moved to his ranch in southern Israel. But days later, he is returned to Sheba.

:: October 25, 2011 – One of Sharon’s sons says his father can move his eyes and fingers when spoken to.

:: January 27, 2013 – Medical experts say new tests show significant brain activity by Sharon, but say he remains in a deep coma.

:: January 11, 2014 – Dies at the age of 85.

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