Ariel Sharon’s ‘life is in danger’ after his health has rapidly deteriorated due to kidney problems, a hospital spokesperson has confirmed.
The former Israeli prime minister has been in a coma since 2006 following a stroke that incapacitated him at the height of his political power.
But Amir Maro, a representative for the Tel Hashomer hospital, where he has been treated for the past eight years, said that the leader’s medical condition had "deteriorated in the past few days".
He refused to comment further, as did Sharon’s son, Omri.
Since then, a second representative, Zeev Rotstein, has said that "several" of Sharon's "essential organs” have deteriorated, describing his condition as "critical" and saying that his "life is in danger".
The Israeli press are reporting that his family have been called to his bedside.
Sharon is one of Israel’s most renowned but controversial generals.
As a politician, be became known as "the bulldozer" for his bold tactics, contempt for his critics and hard-line approach.
He was elected to prime minister in 2001.
In 2005, he directed the withdrawal of Israeli troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip, bringing an end to the country’s 38-year military control 0f the territory.
The move was seen as a shocking turnaround for Sharon, who had been a forerunner in the building of Jewish settlements in the captured area.
Later quitting the Likud Party, he formed a more central Kadima Party.
He appeared on his way to re-election, but suffered a stroke in January 2006 that left him in a coma. His deputy, Ehud Olmert, took over. A few months later, Olmert was elected prime minister.
At one point, Sharon was taken home briefly, but returned to the hospital where he has remained ever since. He occasionally opens his eyes and moves his fingers, but has remained incapacitated since his admission.