Israeli leaders mourned the death of their former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Saturday eight years after a massive stroke left him in a coma.
Sharon left his mark on the Middle East through military invasion and building Jewish settlements on occupied land and also with a shock decision to withdraw from Gaza.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu eulogised Sharon in a video address, saying the nation was mourning his passing:
“The people of Israel bow their heads for the departure of Ariel Sharon, the former prime minister. Arik has contributed to the state’s security, to its defence. He did it because he knew that the Jewish people must be able to defend their only country by its own means, and for themselves. His memory will be cherished in the heart of the nation.”
In a televised address, Israeli President Shimon Peres said:
“He knew no fear, he took difficult decisions and implemented them courageously . From the early years and throughout we kept our friendship in the most moving way. I shall miss him dearly and remember him lovingly.”
Orim and Guilad Sharon, sons of Ariel,
visited the place where the former prime minister will be buried next to his wife.
Sharon’s remains will lie in state in parliament on Sunday. A memorial service will be held there on Monday morning followed by an afternoon funeral near Sycamore Farm, Sharon’s residence.