Former president and prime minister Shimon Peres was hospitalized on Tuesday evening in grave condition, after suffering a massive stroke.
At a brief press conference outside the hospital where Peres was fighting for his life late on Tuesday, his son Chemi Peres asked Israelis to “pray for him” in “these difficult hours.” Chemi Peres said “difficult decisions” would have to be made in the next few hours.
Sources close to the Peres family said Tuesday night that the elder statesman’s life was “in danger” due to bleeding on the brain. The 93-year-old suffered what Channel 1 described as “a massive intracranial hemorrhage.”
Peres underwent two CT scans Tuesday night that showed no change or improvement, and he was in serious condition.
Peres’s office said earlier he was taken to Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, outside Tel Aviv, after feeling unwell. It initially said he was conscious and in stable condition, but later confirmed reports that he was sedated and on a respirator, saying his doctors had decided on this course of action as it made diagnosis and treatment more straightforward.
“Former president Peres’s doctors sedated and intubated him so as to best facilitate the continuation of his treatment,” his office said earlier, adding that he would undergo a CT scan “so as to get a full and updated assessment of his situation.”
Peres turned 93 on August 2.
“The 9th President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, has been admitted to the Sheba Medical Center (Tel Hashomer) after suffering a stroke,” his office said in its first statement. “His condition is stable and he is fully conscious. He is currently receiving medical treatment.”
Messages of support and good wishes quickly flooded in from across the political spectrum.
“I am following with concern the updates from the hospital, and pray together with the entire people for my friend Shimon’s recovery,” said a statement from Reuven Rivlin, who in 2014 succeeded Peres as the president of Israel.
“Shimon, we love you and the whole country wishes you a speedy recovery,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on Twitter. Opposition leader Isaac Herzog also took to Twitter, urging Peres to “come back and make your wise, clear and realistic voice heard.”
Earlier this month, Peres underwent 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 personal physician, Dr. Raphi 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.
Peres, now retired, had a 55-year political career culminating in a term as Israel’s president from 2007 to 2014. He remains active through his nongovernmental Peres Center for Peace, which promotes coexistence between Arabs and Jews.
Considered the last surviving member of Israel’s founding fathers, he served as prime minister twice — from 1984 to 1986 as part of a rotational government, and for a few months in 1995 and 1996 after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. He spent most of his career in the Labor Party.
In December, social media was flooded with rumors that Peres had died, leading him to take to Facebook to declare that rumors of his demise were greatly exaggerated.