Body of Israel's Ariel Sharon lies in state

Updated: 2014-01-12 22:17


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Body of Israel's Ariel Sharon lies in state

Members of the Knesset guard stand around the flag draped coffin of former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon as he lies in state at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem January 12, 2014. Sharon, the trailblazing warrior-statesman who stunned Arab foes with his dramatic turnarounds, died on Saturday aged 85, after eight years in a coma caused by a stroke. [Photo/Agencies]

JERUSALEM - Hundreds of Israelis lined up outside Israel's parliament building on Sunday to pay their last respects to Ariel Sharon, the hard-charging former prime minister and general who died over the weekend.

Sharon's coffin was displayed in a plaza in front of the Knesset, where a stream of visitors passed by to snap photos and say farewell. A funeral service to be attended by dignitaries from around the world, including U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, is scheduled for Monday.

The 85-year-old Sharon, one of Israel's most iconic and controversial figures, died Saturday, eight years after suffering a stroke that left him in a coma.

"My heart is broken. Israel lost the King of David. There is no other word to describe this man, they don't make people like this anymore," said Uri Rottman, a mourner who said he once served in the military with Sharon.

"I feel committed to share the very last moment before they're going to bury him," said Eliav Aviram, another former army comrade.

Sharon was a farmer-turned-soldier, a soldier-turned-politician, a politician-turned-statesman _ a leader known for his exploits on the battlefield, masterminding Israel's invasion of Lebanon, building Jewish settlements on war-won land and then, late in life, destroying some that he deemed no longer useful. To his supporters, he was a war hero. To his critics, he was a war criminal.

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