Former PM Ariel Sharon
Former PM Ariel SharonIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon underwent a planned surgery at the Tel Hashomer Hospital on Tuesday. During the operation, the feeding tube connected to Sharon's digestive system and through which he receives fluid solutions was replaced.

The surgery lasted for about an hour and ended successfully. The former prime minister is in recovery and will be returned to the rehabilitation center at the Tel Hashomer Hospital, where he has been hospitalized in recent years. There is no change in his condition.

Sharon suffered a stroke in 2006 which left him in a coma. He was admitted to the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem after the massive stroke on January 4, 2006. He was subsequently moved to Tel Hashomer and has remained there in serious but stable condition ever since.

In January it was reported that hospital brain scans appeared to give a glimmer of hope for some improvement Sharon’s condition.

Sharon had been examined by experts at Ben Gurion University and the Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva, where he underwent an MRI scan. During the two-hour test, Sharon was showed pictures of his family members, and a recording of the voice of his son Gilad was played for him.

According to the researchers, there was a “definite reaction” in Sharon's brain when he saw the images and heard the voice. However, there was no way to tell if Sharon was aware of the images, and if so how aware he actually was, experts explained.

Gilad Sharon claimed in a 2011 interview that his father is occasionally awake and responds to speech.

“He looks at me and moves fingers when I ask him to,” Gilad said. “I am sure he hears me.”

Sharon, once a Likud leader, was behind the 2005 disengagement plan in which 8,000 Jews were expelled from their homes in Gush Katif and Northern Samaria (Shomron). The government claimed that leaving Gush Katif would result in peace and quiet, but rocket and missile attacks from Gaza-based terrorists continued despite the expulsion.

The Kadima party, which Sharon formed so he can implement the disengagement, had 28 seats in the previous Knesset but crashed in January’s elections, barely passing the threshold and winning just two Knesset seats.

Kadima's two MKs in this Knesset, party chairman Shaul Mofaz and Yisrael Hasson, remained in the opposition.