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Israeli hospital announces death of former prime minister Ariel Sharon

ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) The hospital where Ariel Sharon, the former Israeli general and prime minister, spent his last years in a coma, announced his death on Saturday. The 85 year-old died with his family at his side. Doctors at the Chaim Sheba Medical Center had predicted his imminent death after his health declined sharply last week. "Throughout this period, he was considered to be in a state of minimal consciousness, with ups and downs in his medical condition and non-verbal, minimal communication," hospital spokesman Professor Shlomo Noy told reporters. "The former prime minister overcame many medical complications during this period. Over the past week he struggled with surprising strength and determination against the deterioration in his condition. Today he departed peacefully with his loving family at his side," Shlomo said. Ministers in Israel's right-wing government, and the political opposition, mourned a tough and wily leader w

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