Former Israeli premier Ariel Sharon was Friday transferred to his
home, Israel radio reported, nearly five years after he suffered a
massive stroke and went into a coma in the midst of a re-election
The 82-year-old, who is in a vegetative state, would spend the
weekend at his Sycamore Ranch in the southern Negev desert, as a
trial to see if the caring for him outside hospital is possible.
Sharon's family agreed to take him home, after insisting for two
years that he be cared for in hospital, a spokeswoman from the
Sheba hospital east of Tel Aviv said.
According to the hospital, previous attempts to bring Sharon to
his home had not borne fruit "because of the family's refusal".
Hospital spokeswoman Michal Shabtay said Sharon would first spend
a number of temporary leaves from the hospital at the ranch, which
if successful, would pave the way for his full return home.
She added the trial process would be supervised by the hospital
The announcement of his planned transfer home came after the
Finance Committee of the Knesset, or parliament heard earlier this
week that Sharon's medical treatment at Sheba cost 1.6 million
Israeli shekels ($440,000) a year.
A local social pressure group had complained about the expensive
treatment Sharon was receiving. Sheba confirmed that the
ex-premier's care was beyond that given to any ordinary citizen.
Sharon suffered a massive brain haemorrhage Jan 4, 2006, three
months before elections and with polls predicting him as the clear
He was admitted to the Sheba's respiratory rehabilitation unit in
May 2006, following initial treatment at Jerusalem's Hadassash
According to the Haaretz daily, he has a two-person room to
himself at the 10-room unit with some 18 patients.
Bodyguards are on duty around the clock and surveillance cameras
have been installed, while a nurse tends to him during each day's
Sharon, who was married and widowed twice, has two sons, Omri and
Sharon was one of Israel's most controversial premiers.
As the then defence minister, an Israeli commission declared him
indirectly responsible for the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre, in
which Lebanese Christian militias who were Israel's allies
slaughtered hundreds of Palestinian refugees on the outskirts of
But he is also known as the Israeli premier who unilaterally
pulled Israel's army and settlers out of the Gaza Strip in 2005.
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