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Israel's former Prime Minister Sharon dies at 85

By The Associated Press

This article was published January 11, 2014 at 10:32 a.m.

in-this-wednesday-feb-7-2001-file-photo-ariel-sharon-then-israels-prime-minister-elect-looks-up-as-he-touches-judaism-holiest-site-the-western-wall-in-jerusalem-the-son-of-former-israeli-prime-minister-ariel-sharon-says-his-father-has-died-on-saturday-jan-11-2014-the-85-year-old-sharon-had-been-in-a-coma-since-a-debilitating-stroke-eight-years-ago-ap-photodavid-guttenfelder-file

In this Wednesday Feb. 7, 2001 file photo, Ariel Sharon, then Israel's Prime Minister-elect, looks up as he touches Judaism holiest site, the Western Wall, in Jerusalem. The son of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says his father has died on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014. The 85-year-old Sharon had been in a coma since a debilitating stroke eight years ago. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder, File)

JERUSALEM — Ariel Sharon, the hard-charging Israeli general and prime minister who was admired and hated for his battlefield exploits and ambitions to reshape the Middle East, died Saturday, eight years after a stroke left him in a coma from which he never awoke. He was 85.

As one of Israel's most famous soldiers, Sharon 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.

He led his country into a divisive war in Lebanon in 1982 and was branded as indirectly responsible for the massacre of hundreds of Palestinians at the Sabra and Chatilla refugee camps outside Beirut when his troops allowed allied Lebanese militias into the camps. Yet ultimately he transformed himself into a prime minister and statesman.

Sharon's son Gilad announced the death on Saturday afternoon. Sharon's health had taken a downturn over the past week and a half as a number of bodily organs, including his kidneys, stopped functioning, and doctors on Thursday pronounced his condition "grave."

"He has gone. He went when he decided to go," Gilad Sharon said outside the hospital where his father had been treated in recent years.

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