Comatose Sharon shifted home from medical centre

Ailing former Israeli PM Ariel Sharon was today shifted from medical centre to his home in Negev.

Jerusalem: Nearly five years after he sank into coma, former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was today moved from the medical centre where he was admitted to his own home in the Negev.

The ambulance carrying Sharon was tightly guarded by security officials and police patrol vehicles as it left the hospital premises to Sycamore Ranch, for continued care.

Logistic and medical preparations for the move, requested by his sons, were completed overnight, officials of the Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer said.

To prevent the chances of his being photographed, details of the move were kept under tight wraps, including the time of his departure.

Screens were also erected to retain privacy as mediapersons thronged the area.

Police and security personnel entered his house before the ambulance carrying him arrived, and the road near the ranch was closed to traffic.

The former Prime Minister, normally referred to as the `Mr Security` by many in Israel, has been a very controversial figure in Israeli politics.

He is revered by many Israelis but largely reviled in the Arab world for his role in the first Lebanon War.

As defence minister, Sharon masterminded Israel`s invasion of Lebanon in 1982. During the invasion, hundreds of Palestinians were massacred in two refugee camps under Israeli

A hawk for major part of his career, he surprised the world by his decision to withdraw from Gaza in 2005, a move that was unilaterally carried out by Israel.

Sharon will spend his first "vacation" from Sheba Medical Center at his ranch in the western Negev over the weekend.
Hospital officials were tightlipped about the temporary release from Sheba`s rehabilitation department, but said that specialists from the medical center would accompany him this time.

During future "vacations," they will not, but the Sharon family will hire medical and auxiliary staffers privately, they said.

If the family and hired staffers are able to keep him stable at the ranch over several visits, he will remain there, a hospital spokesperson said.
Family friend, Ra`anan Gissin, who was his media adviser when he fell into coma, said that most of the time Sharon breathes on his own but is sometimes hooked up to an
oxygen balloon.

The former prime minister suffered two massive strokes on January 5, 2006 and was hospitalised at the Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in an unconscious state.