Israel's Ariel Sharon in Critical Condition

Former prime minister has been in a coma for nearly 8 years.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon pauses during the weekly cabinet meeting in his Jerusalem office on Jan. 30, 2005. Sharon, 85, has been in a coma since 2006 when a devastating stroke incapacitated him at the height of his political power.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has died, his son says.

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Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who suffered a massive stroke while serving in January 2006, was in increasingly worse health Wednesday, doctors say.

"He is in critical condition and his life is definitely in danger," said Dr. Zeev Rotstein, director of Tel Hashomer hospital where Sharon is staying, according to The Associated Press. "The feeling of the doctors treating him and also that of the family with him is that there is a turn for the worse."

Sharon, 85, has spent most of the last 7 and a half years in the hospital, located just outside Tel Aviv, in a vegetative state, breathing on his own but using a feeding tube, according to The New York Times. He recently had surgery on the tube.

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Sharon, a former top military figure throughout Israel's history, was known as a hard-liner when he was elected prime minister in 2001. But in 2005, he initiated a complete troop withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, which had been under Israeli military control for 35 years, and was reportedly planning to make other land concessions to Palestinians when he fell ill, according to the AP. He also left the conservative party he was a member of when elected, the Likud Party, and created his own, a more moderation one called the Kadima Party.

Shortly after falling ill, Sharon was replaced in office by Ehud Olmert, who served under Sharon and then was elected prime minister in his own right.

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