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Hospital: Israel's Sharon in a 'Slow, Steady' Decline

FILE - Israeli Likud party leader Ariel Sharon accompanied by his wife Lily, right, walks in to the Knesset building in Jerusalem before his appointment to the post of Minister of Infrastructure, July 8, 1996.
Former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon's health has deteriorated further, with hospital officials now saying he is in a "slow, steady decline."

Zeev Rotstein, director of the Tel Hashomer hospital, said on Friday that Sharon's kidneys and other vital organs are now malfunctioning.

The hospital said Thursday the 85-year-old former Israeli leader was in critical condition. He has been in a coma since suffering a stroke in 2006 at the height of his political power.

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 considered by many to be a shocking turnaround for a man who had been a leading player in building Jewish settlements in captured Palestinian territories.