Israeli media have reported that Ariel Sharon, who has been in a vegetative state for eight years, could be dead within days.
The medical condition of the former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon has deteriorated significantly eight years after a severe stroke at the height of his premiership left him in a vegetative state, according to reports on Wednesday.
Sources quoted in the Israeli media, said death could come "in a matter of days".
His family was reported to be at his bedside.
Sharon (85) suffered a devastating stroke on January 4 2006, five years after being elected prime minister. He spent months in hospital in Jerusalem before being transferred to a long-term care facility at Sheba medical centre near Tel Aviv.
Last January, doctors said the former prime minister had exhibited "robust activity" in his brain during tests.
Scans showed Sharon responding to pictures of his family and recordings of his son's voice.
However, doctors said the chances of him regaining consciousness were almost zero. Four months ago, Sharon underwent surgery to insert a new feeding tube, through which he receives fluids.
A former military general, Sharon was a hardline rightwinger in political office. But in 2005 he ordered the unilateral withdrawal of Israeli troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip, a move many considered a dramatic change in his political strategy. Within weeks of his stroke, Hamas won Palestinian elections. – guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2014