Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is seen as he takes part in the lighting of a Hanukkah candle at his Jerusalem office, Dec. 27, 2005.
Kevin Frayer/AP

Former Israeli Prime Minister Sharon dies at 85

Updated

Ariel Sharon, the former prime minister and ex-general who embodied Israel’s military might, has died, Israeli radio and television announced on Saturday.

The 85-year-old Sharon had been in a coma at the Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv for eight years after suffering a stroke in 2006.

Despised by Arabs for his hardline policies, Sharon was respected by Israelis for his military prowess and patriotism.

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MSNBC Live with Alex Witt, 1/11/14, 8:22 AM ET

Ariel Sharon dies at 85

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has passed away at the age of 85. NBC’s Martin Fletcher takes a look at the life and career of this controversial leader.

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Former Israeli Prime Minister Sharon dies at 85

Updated