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Ariel Sharon, former PM of Israel, dies

Jerusalem (AP) - The son of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says his father "went when he decided to go." The 85-year-old Sharon died today after spending the last eight years of his life in a coma following a stroke.

The hospital that had been treating him says Sharon had had "ups and downs" during his years in a condition defined as "minimal consciousness."

The hospital said last week that Sharon's health was declining as he began to suffer failure of vital organs including his kidneys.

The hard-charging Sharon was one of Israel's most iconic figures.

After a distinguished, and controversial, military career, he went into politics and held a number of Cabinet posts.

He was elected prime minister in 2001, and despite his hardline views, led Israel's historic withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005.

Israeli president Shimon Peres is remembering his longtime friend and rival as "a brave soldier and a daring leader who loved his nation." Peres calls Ariel Sharon "one of Israel's great protectors and most important architects."

 
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