Fmr. Israeli Prime Minster Ariel Sharon Dead at 85

Early Saturday morning, former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, 85, passed away eight years after a stroke left him in a coma.

Sharon was the country’s 11th prime minister, and his career ended in 2006 after a stroke left him comatose. He had an extensive career in both Israeli politics and military operations. He was dubbed “Arik, King of Israel” for his battlefield actions, namely in the 1967 Six Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

He also oversaw the Lebanon War in the early 1980s as the country’s defense minister, before being ousted from office after an investigation found him indirectly responsible for the Sabra and Shatilla massacre. In the late 1990s, he came to the position of foreign minister.

Sharon was eventually elected prime minister in 2001 as a member of Likud, the center-right party, and it was under his leadership that Israel began to construct security barriers in the West Bank. Though he ran for office as a hardliner on the Gaza settlements, he controversially orchestrated the evacuation of Israelis from 21 settlements, resulting in his eventual departure from the Likud party and the forming of liberal Kadima with other famous Israeli leaders.

Though he had been comatose for several years, Sharon’s health took a turn for the worse last week, resulting in the failure of vital organs and his eventual passing.

[Image via Jim Wallace (Smithsonian Institution)]

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