Begin Reported in Critical Condition Following an Apparent Heart Attack

Former Prime Minister Menachem Begin remained unconscious in the intensive-care unit of Ichilov Hospital after suffering an apparent heart attack Tuesday morning at his suburban Tel Aviv home.

His condition, though critical, was stable, and the chances for his recovery are good, a hospital official said.

Begin’s son, Likud Knesset member Binyamin Begin, and his daughters, Leah and Hassiya, were at his bedside, along with his personal aide and longtime friend Yechiel Kadishai.

The 78-year-old Begin lost consciousness at about 7 a.m. local time. He was rushed to the hospital by a Red Magen David ambulance whose attendants administered emergency treatment on the way.

Early reports said Begin was paralyzed on his left side, indicative of a stroke.

But the director of Ichilov, Dan Michaeli, told reporters at a noon news conference: “We have established that the basic problem was a heart attack.”

He said the former prime minister was admitted to the respiratory intensive-care unit with an irregular heartbeat and weakness of his left side, apparently because of insufficient blood flow to his brain.

He was put on a respirator at 10 a.m. and rallied shortly afterward. By afternoon, sensation returned to his leg.

Michaeli added that “with a general improvement, there is a chance he will regain consciousness and recover.” In fact, there are good chances for a complete recovery because there seems to be no permanent damage to the brain, he said.

Binyamin Begin requested afterward that the hospital hold no more news briefings on his father’s condition, for the sake of privacy.

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