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 Friday, January 06, 2006

Ariel Sharon Clinging to Life: Most Israelis Stunned While Enemies Celebrate

  Read here original article from Reuters

Breaking News

Ariel Sharon's Condition

Neurologists said the prognosis does not look good for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who underwent a second surgery early Thursday to control bleeding in his brain after a massive stroke.

Doctors told CNN that it was unlikely that Sharon would return to full health and that the chances of him dying were high. Read here for more

Stunned Israelis were glued to radio and television sets on Thursday, desperate for news of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as he fought for his life after undergoing surgery for a massive cerebral haemorrhage. At Judaism's Western Wall, worshippers prayed for the 77-year-old former general.

But news the bulky leader was in critical condition was greeted with celebrations among Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and ultranationalist Israelis, groups with nothing in common but their loathing for the man nicknamed 'The Bulldozer'.

On buses and in shops, radio stations played melancholy music between updates on Sharon's condition and interviews with medical experts, most of whom suggested that Sharon could be severely incapacitated even if he pulled through.

"It's a shame that he has gone. It's fate," said salesman David Dayan as he rushed to work in Jerusalem.

Doctors said they stemmed the bleeding in Sharon's brain in a seven-hour operation and that he was critical but stable. They did not say how much brain damage he may have suffered.

Israeli television stations carried little but updates from Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital and analysis of the potential fallout from Sharon's condition.

"The Israeli public is suffering from confusion and stress, anxiety and a feeling of unreality. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will not return to the political arena," wrote Maya Bangal on the Maariv newspapers NRG website.


Elsewhere, Sharon's foes celebrated.

Ultranationalists who fought bitterly against Israel's withdrawal from Gaza last year raised glasses of wine in a toast when they heard that Sharon was in critical condition.

"The angels listened to our prayers," Michael Ben-Horin, a member of the anti-Arab Kach group.

Politicians said they would halt campaigning for a March 28 general election that Sharon's newly formed Kadima party had been expected to win by a landslide. His illness put Kadima's future in doubt.

Some Israelis going about their business in Jerusalem said the country would bounce back.

News of Sharon's illness was greeted with celebrations in the Gaza Strip, where Palestinian children held up signs saying 'Sharon go to hell' and gave out sweets to mark the occasion.

Sharon drew Arab enmity for masterminding the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, during which Christian militia allies massacred Palestinians in two refugee camps, and later for his crushing response to a Palestinian uprising that erupted after he visited a sensitive Jerusalem shrine in 2000.

"The downfall of the Dracula of the century is a day of happiness for every Palestinian and every Muslim," said Abu Abir, a spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees, a militant group.

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