The health of former Israeli leader Ariel Sharon has sharply deteriorated.
That announcement was made Wednesday by the hospital treating Sharon since he lapsed into a coma after suffering a stroke in 2006.
Israeli media reported that the 85-year-old former leader was suffering from kidney problems and that his family was at the hospital.
Sharon was one of Israel's most iconic and controversial figures. In mid-2005, he directed a unilateral withdrawal of Israeli troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip, ending a 38-year military control of the territory. It was a shocking turnaround for a man who had been a leading player in building Jewish settlements in captured territories.
He has been in a vegetative state at Tel Hashomer hospital outside Tel Aviv since suffering the stroke at the height of his political power.