The the former Israeli general and prime minister, Ariel Sharon, has died aged 85. He had been in a coma for 8 years after suffering a stroke at the height of his power. Sharon was Israel’s 11th Prime Minister and entered politics after a career in the military. Ariel Sharon was born Ariel Scheinermann on 26 February 1928 to Russian parents in a Jewish settlement in Palestine. He became a commander in the Israeli Army from 1948. After retiring from the military, Sharon entered politics, joining the Likud party. When he was Minister for Defence during the 1982 Lebanon War, hundreds of Palestinian civilians were killed during an attack on refugee camps. The Israeli government launched an investigation and found Sharon negligent, leading to his removal from the position, although he did later hold other ministerial roles He became the leader of the Likud party in 2000 and served as Israeli Prime Minister from 2001 until 2006, when a second stroke left him in a coma. Sharon authorised construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. But in 2004 and 5, when he was Prime Minister, he orchestrated Israel’s unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip. Facing stiff opposition to this policy within the Likud, in November 2005 he left to form a new Kadima party. Mr Sharon has two sons, Omri and Gilad.