The health of former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, who has been in a coma for nearly eight years, worsened on Wednesday, Israeli media reported.
The 85-year-old, who is at the Tel Hashomer hospital in the city of Tel Aviv, was suffering from “serious kidney problems” after undergoing surgery, army radio said.
News website Ynet quoted medical sources as saying Sharon was taken into intensive care a month ago. His health then stabilised but suffered a “significant deterioration” in the past few days.
The long-time leader of the rightwing nationalist camp in Israeli politics suffered a massive stroke on January 4, 2006, slipping into a coma from which he has never recovered.
Israeli and US specialists said in January 2013 that Sharon had showed “significant brain activity” in an MRI scan, responding to pictures of his family seven years after the stroke.
He was first elected prime minister in February 2001, just months after walking through east Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound, revered by Jews as the Temple Mount, in an action that sparked the second Palestinian uprising.
In November 2005, he left the rightwing Likud to set up a new party, Kadima, frustrated by hardliners opposed to his withdrawal of troops and settlers from Gaza that year and to any further concessions in the occupied West Bank.