Tel Aviv: The state funeral of former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon will be held Monday, his family said. He passed away Saturday at a medical centre after being comatose for eight years.

The 85-year-old leader suffered a stroke in 2006 and slipped into a coma. His condition deteriorated last week after he suffered a kidney failure. He died at the Sheba Medical Centre near Tel Aviv.

Sharon will be laid to rest at a site close to his family’s Sycamore Ranch in southern Israel and will be buried next to his second wife Lily Sharon, who died of cancer 14 years ago, Xinhua reported. His first wife Margalit was killed in a car accident in 1962. In 1968, his 11-year-old son Gur was killed while playing with a gun.

His casket will be stationed in the Knesset (parliament) to enable the public to pay their last respect, local media reported.

Sharon was the first prime minister of Israel to visit India. He flew to New Delhi at the invitation of then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

A former defence and foreign minister, Sharon — one of the most controversial Israeli leaders — took part in several Israeli military campaigns, playing a controversial role in the 1982 Lebanese war.

From being a leader of the Likud party, Sharon was often blamed for the second Palestinian intifada.

Source: IANS