Shimon Peres, the last of Israel’s founding fathers, dies at 93
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Shimon Peres, the last of Israel’s founding fathers, dies at 93

Former president and prime minister passes away in his sleep 2 weeks after suffering major stroke

Former Israeli president Shimon Peres seen at an event marking 40 years since Operation Entebbe, held at Peres Center for Peace in Tel Aviv. Seven passengers, who were then aged 3-16 and held hostage on the flight, attended the event, on June 27, 2016.  (Ben Kelmer/FLASH90)
Former Israeli president Shimon Peres seen at an event marking 40 years since Operation Entebbe, held at Peres Center for Peace in Tel Aviv. Seven passengers, who were then aged 3-16 and held hostage on the flight, attended the event, on June 27, 2016. (Ben Kelmer/FLASH90)

Shimon Peres, the last of Israel’s founding fathers, died early Wednesday morning at the age of 93.

Peres died in his sleep at around 3:00 am local time on Wednesday, Rafi Walden, Peres’s personal physician who is also his son-in-law, said.

He died surrounded by family members, a source close to Peres added.

Peres’s office sent a statement early Wednesday announcing that his family would speak to the press at the Sheba Medical Center at 7:00am and would be joined by the hospital’s director Professor Itzik Kreiss

The former president and prime minister had been “fighting for his life,” doctors said Tuesday as he suffered a rapid deterioration to his condition, two weeks after a major stroke. Peres died overnight Tuesday-Wednesday at the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer Hospital, after his family members and those close to him who had been called late Tuesday to say their final goodbyes.

Doctors said Tuesday evening that he had suffered irreversible brain damage.

Peres was hospitalized at Sheba on September 13 after suffering a major stroke. He had been under sedation since then, with doctors periodically reporting slight progress in his condition until the rapid deterioration Tuesday and into early Wednesday.

Head of the Sheba Medical Center, Itzhak Krais, and Professor Raphy Walden, son-in -law and personal physician of former Israeli president Shimon Peres, speak with media at the hospital on September 14, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Head of the Sheba Medical Center, Itzhak Krais, and Professor Raphy Walden, son-in -law and personal physician of former Israeli president Shimon Peres, speak with media at the hospital on September 14, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

News of Peres’s stroke earlier this month sent shockwaves through the country, which feared the imminent loss of the last surviving link to its founding fathers.

Over a seven-decade career, the elder statesman of Israeli politics and one of the country’s most admired symbols has held virtually every senior political office, including two stints as prime minister and extended terms as foreign, defense and finance minister. He won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in reaching an interim peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Long a divisive personality in politics, Peres finally became one of Israel’s most popular public figures in his later years.

World leaders had sent wishes of a speedy recovery to the former president, recalling his achievements and warm personality.

Peres had recently undergone surgery to receive an artificial pacemaker after he was diagnosed with an abnormal heart rhythm in July following a series of minor health scares. The implant was recommended by Peres’s doctors, including his physician Walden, after he was diagnosed in July with atrial fibrillation.

He suffered a mild heart attack in January and underwent a cardiac angioplasty to open a blocked artery. He had been hospitalized twice after suffering chest pains.

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