[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 6 January 2006, 17:50 GMT
Sharon op stops bleeding in brain
Ariel Sharon in a 2002 file photo
Mr Sharon's illness throws Israeli politics into turmoil
An emergency operation on Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has stopped bleeding in his brain, but he remains in a critical condition, doctors say.

A scan after the operation showed "significant improvement" in his brain, Hadassah hospital director Shlomo Mor-Yosef said.

Mr Sharon, 77, had already undergone seven hours of surgery on Wednesday night after suffering a massive stroke.

His deputy, Ehud Olmert, has taken over as caretaker prime minister.

Scheduled elections are to go ahead in March.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak told the BBC after the latest operation that Mr Sharon was in the final days or hours of his life.

But Felix Umansky, a leader of the surgical team working on the prime minister, told the AFP news agency there was still a chance he could recover.

The BBC's Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen says Israelis are experts at soaking up emergencies, but the loss of Mr Sharon from politics is a highly significant moment in this country's history.

Surgeons' work

Mr Mor-Yosef announced on Friday evening that the latest operation had successfully released pressure on Mr Sharon's brain.

"There is no active bleeding and the intracranial pressure has returned to normal," he said.

The gravity of Sharon's condition reshuffles all the political cards
Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot

Earlier in the day he had said Mr Sharon was returning to the operating theatre because a scan had showed an enlarged ventricle.

Surgeons would drain excess blood to relieve the pressure, he said.

An increase in pressure inside the skull can be a severe medical problem.

The BBC's Jon Leyne in Jerusalem says the new operation was unexpected.

Earlier, the doctors were saying they expected no change in Mr Sharon's condition before the weekend, and that they planned to keep him sedated in an "induced coma" at least until Sunday.

After the latest operation, the hospital reiterated that they would keep Mr Sharon under sedation until Sunday.

Sharon suffers minor stroke on 18 December 2005
Doctors discover small hole in heart, schedule operation for 5 January
Sharon rushed to hospital one day before scheduled surgery with major stroke
Undergoes two operations overnight on 4/5 January, followed by third on 6 January

"The goal of the sedation is to lower the oxygen needs of the brain and to allow the brain ... to rest," Hadassah hospital deputy director Shmuel Shapira told the Israeli daily Haaretz.

"So certainly until Sunday, and it's possible beyond that, he will be sedated."

Mr Sharon's sons, Omri and Gilad, are among the family members and aides who have gathered at the Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem.

Political turmoil

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has cancelled a planned six-day trip to Indonesia and Australia in light of the situation in the Middle East, a spokesman said on Friday.

She is reported to have spoken to Mr Olmert by phone on Friday.

Correspondents say aides to Mr Sharon assume he will not be capable of resuming work.

As head of the recently formed Kadima (Forward) party, Mr Sharon had been widely expected to win Israel's general election on 28 March.

I hope that whatever happens, sensible options for peace can be adopted
Clair, Sheffield

However, a survey published by Israel's Yediot Ahronot newspaper on Friday said Kadima led by Mr Olmert would still win 39 of the Knesset's 120 seats, with Labour capturing 20 seats and Likud 16.

Mr Olmert held talks with Kadima colleague Shimon Peres, a rival-turned-ally of Mr Sharon, on Friday morning.

Mr Peres said he was "very worried" about the prime minister's health.

But, he said, "We will know how to continue Israel's policy... to continue Ariel Sharon's policies."

Ariel Sharon remains unconscious in hospital

Israel and the Palestinians



Palestinian women sit on a roof top of the home of a Palestinian family in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip on 20 November 2006. Human shields
Palestinians adopt a new tactic to deter Israeli attacks, but this is a high-risk strategy




The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific