Ariel Sharon ready to be taken home from Israeli hospital four years
Former prime minister, in a coma since January 2006, expected to return
home to his ranch
* Ana Carbajosa in Jerusalem
, Wednesday 10 November 2010 18.05 GMT
ariel-sharon-leave-hospital Ariel Sharon photographed in 2005 shortly
before his stroke. Photograph: Gali Tibbon/AFP/Getty Images
Former Israeli prime minster Ariel Sharon, who has been in a coma for
almost five years, may return home within days, according to a family
friend and Israeli media reports.
Sharon, 82, the political and military hero of the Israeli right, has
been in a hospital bed since January 2006, after suffering a massive
stroke. He is now in a vegetative state in the respiratory
rehabilitation unit in Sheba medical centre, near Tel Aviv.
The former hawkish Likud leader – who went on to form the centrist
Kadima party – will be moved to Sycamore Ranch, his vast farm in the
western Negev, not far from the Gaza strip.
The ranch, where his wife is buried, was known as the beloved retreat
of the man widely despised in the Arab world for his role in the
massacres at Sabra and Chatila refugee camps outside Beirut in 1982.
Raanan Gissin, a former Sharon adviser and family friend, confirmed
that he "will be moved in the next few days, but the exact date cannot
be disclosed for security reasons".
Gissin said "the family has been looking forward to the move for a long
time, but now everything is ready in the farm".
The family and hospital officials have declined to comment on Sharon's
exact condition. Gissin said the former prime minister was breathing
independently and not attached to a respirator. However, he added that
Sharon occasionally needed an oxygen mask.
The Israeli daily newspaper Yediot Ahronot said police had received
notice of the expected transfer, saying that it was planned for the
Contacted by phone, Omri Sharon, one of the former prime minister's two
sons, declined to confirm the press reports.
Zeev Rotstein, head of Sheba medical centre, will meet the Sharon
family tomorrow to "hear their wishes", a spokesman for the hospital
said. "We as a hospital will do everything to help them with their
plans," he said.
The centre issued a statement last night saying hospital staff had
begun talking to the family about his release almost two years ago.
It added that "the preparations for Mr Sharon's return to his home are
being made by his family" but that the hospital would assist.
The hospital said it would provide training for private nurses and the
other people needed.
Doctors who had been treating Sharon would also offer technical and
medical assistance if needed.
A parliamentary committee this week approved 1.6m Israeli shekels
(£272,500) in annual funding for Sharon's medical treatment.