JERUSALEM, Thursday, Jan. 5 – Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a serious stroke on Wednesday night and underwent emergency brain surgery in an effort to save his life, a hospital official said.
Mr. Sharon’s power as prime minister was transferred to Deputy Premier Ehud Olmert. Israeli politics, dominated in recent years by Mr. Sharon, were thrown into turmoil, especially with growing lawlessness in the Gaza Strip. [Page A10.]
Mr. Sharon’s spokesman, Raanan Gissin, told reporters that after 90 minutes of surgery, “the operation is going well and his condition is stable.” But another aide said the prime minister was in critical condition and might not survive.
The mood in Israel was somber, with Josef Lapid, leader of the Shinui Party, calling it “one of the most dramatic nights in Israel’s history.” Whether or not Mr. Sharon survives, the country seemed already to have entered a post-Sharon era. Some compared the feeling to the night in 1995 that Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated.
In brief statements outside