Ariel Sharon suffered a stroke four years go that has left him comatose, a condition that is unlikely to change, according to close friend and former advisor Dov Weisglass. Sharon, now age 81, suffered a mild stroke in December of 2005, followed by a massive one in January 2006 from which he has never regained consciousness.
Weisglass told the Associated Press that although Sharon's vital signs are good, there are no signs he is progressing out of his coma, despite several rumors over the years that were based on involuntarily movements of his eyes. Although he is not on a respirator during the day, he is fitted with an oxygen mask at night.
Raanan Gissin, another close friend and former director of Sharon's office, told the news agency, "There is still no change physiologically. His body functions, but he has still not regained consciousness. Who knows if he can hear or not?"
Sharon’s major stroke occurred less than four months after the expulsion of almost 10,000 Jews from the Gaza region and parts of northern Samaria, as well as the withdrawal of the IDF from Gaza and the Philadelphi corridor. Shortly afterwards, Hamas staged a coup and took control of the region.
The terrorist organization used the vacuum of security to escalate a lethal bombardment on southern Israel that reached a peak one year ago, when then-former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert authorized the Operation Cast Lead counterterrorist campaign that lasted three weeks.
If Sharon had remained in office, he would not have allowed the escalation in attacks against Israel which led to Cast Lead, according to American-born Bar-Ilan University Prof. Gerald Steinberg.
Gissin added that the very presence of Sharon, who was a hero in the IDF and a long-time senior officer, might have precluded the massive attacks launched by Hamas.