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Former Israeli President Peres dies at age 93, funeral set for Friday

By Maxwell Adeleye

Former Israeli President Shimon Peres, one of the last living founding fathers of Israel, passed away at the age of 93 on Wednesday after suffering a major stroke more than two weeks ago. According to Israeli media, Peres’ body will lie in state at the Knesset (parliament) on Thursday to allow the public to pay their respect and he will be laid to rest in Jerusalem on Friday.

The Israeli Foreign ministry in a statement said many world leaders and dignitaries including U.S. President Barack Obama, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and former U.S. President Bill Clinton would attend the funeral. Doctors at the Chaim Sheba Medical Centre near Tel Aviv, where Peres had been hospitalised since Sept. 13, said that the former president died in his sleep, surrounded by his family.

“Shimon Peres left us without suffering,’’ his personal physician and son-in-law, Rafi Walden, told newsmen at the hospital. Walden said that Peres was in good health and working with full steam until the day he sustained the stroke.

“His life ended abruptly while he was still working on his great passion strengthening the state and striving for peace,’’ he said. Peres were under induced coma for most of his hospitalisation to allow him to rest after a massive brain haemorrhage. A day after the stroke, the physicians said his condition was “serious but stable” and were optimistic about the prospects of his recovery. However, on Tuesday, his conditions took a turn for the worse after he experienced a kidney failure and a respiratory failure.

According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, PM Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara expressed “deep personal sorrow” over the passing of Peres.

Netanyahu said he mourned the loss together with all the citizens of Israel, the Jewish people, and many more throughout the world.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, head of the ultra-right faction of Yisrael Beytenu, said Peres’ death was a sad day for the people of Israel.

Israel Airports Authority announced that it was completing the preparations for the arrival of heads of states and international journalists at the Ben Gurion International Airport.

“The authority activated a special command to allow special operation by air traffic division and a general calling-up of all of the Authority’s workers,’’ the authority said in a statement.

Pere was born as Szymon Perski in 1923 in a Polish town now known as Vishnyeva in Belarus. Meanwhile in 1934, he and his family immigrated to Israel, then known as Palestine. His nearly 70-year political career covered almost every role in the political arena he served twice as prime minister. He also served as foreign minister, defense minister, finance minister, chairman of the Labour Party, and leader of the opposition in the parliament.

He played a vital role in founding Israel’s military and aviation industries and established paths for exporting Israeli weapons and security equipment throughout the world. Report says in 1994, he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his part in forming the short-lived peace accords with the Palestinians in 1993.

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