Israel's ex-PM Sharon clinging to life: doctors

JERUSALEM Sun Jan 5, 2014 5:09am EST

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon attends a ceremony completing the sale of Bank Leumi to a private U.S. investment group in his office in Jerusalem January 4, 2006. REUTERS/Eliana Aponte

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon attends a ceremony completing the sale of Bank Leumi to a private U.S. investment group in his office in Jerusalem January 4, 2006.

Credit: Reuters/Eliana Aponte

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, in a coma since a 2006 stroke, is clinging to life after his condition took a turn for the worse last week, the head of the hospital treating him said on Sunday.

Sharon was fighting like a "true lion," Zeev Rotstein told reporters. But he added: "Our general assessment is there is no way to overcome this crisis ... I am perhaps more pessimistic than I was before."

The 85-year-old's condition sharply deteriorated last week, with doctors reporting a life-threatening collapse of vital organs. Rotstein said Sharon's two sons remained at his bedside in the Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv.

One of Israel's most famous generals, Sharon left his mark on the region through military invasion, Jewish settlement building on captured land and a shock, unilateral decision to pull Israeli troops and settlers out of the Gaza Strip in 2005.

(Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch, Editing by Jeffrey Heller)

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