MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Florida leaders mourn the loss of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

The Israeli soldier-turned-politician-turned statesman died Saturday, eight years after a stroke put him in a coma. He was 85.

“I want to extend my deepest condolences to the people of Israel and the family of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. In his long career dedicated to his country as a soldier and a public servant, Sharon created, lived and breathed Israel’s political and military history. As an officer and while serving in government, Ariel Sharon was a strong leader, pursuing his beliefs with conviction, but he was above all a patriot, whose love of Israel drove his every action,” said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in a statement. “I hope his family, friends and loved ones find comfort in his memory and may the legacy of his life be for a blessing.”

Wasserman Schultz will be part of the Presidential Delegation to attend Sharon’s state funeral.

“Ariel Sharon lived a full life dedicated to serving his beloved nation. As a member of Israel’s founding generation, he helped the Jewish state become the vibrant thriving democracy it is today,” said U.S. Senator Marco Rubio. “My wife Jeanette and I send our condolences to his family and to the people of Israel as they mourn his passing.”

“Prime Minister Sharon was a great friend to the United States. I am honored to have known him as a friend and to have worked with him to strengthen the unbreakable bond between our two nations. During these challenging times, the American people stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Israel,” said U.S. Representative Alcee L. Hastings. “I offer my profound sympathies and deepest condolences to Prime Minister Sharon’s family and the Israeli people during this great time of sadness.”

Zeev Rotstein, the director of the Chaim Sheba Medical Center where Sharon was being treated in Israel, was in Aventura on Saturday. He recalled meeting Sharon before his health had worsened and remembered the huge contribution the former prime minister made to his country.

“He was a doer. He did many things for the state of Israel, we owe him a lot and I hope that he will be remembered as a bulldozer. Ari the Bulldozer. The one who moves mountains who improved the infrastructure of Israel, who fought for the safety of Israel, for the defense of Israel and really moved toward peace,” said Rotstein.

On Monday, there will be a state memorial ceremony at the Knesset in Jerusalem. President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and family members will speak. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, Czech Prime Minister Jiri Rusnok, Russian State Duma Chairman Sergey Naryshkin are scheduled to attend.

Following the ceremony, there will be a private funeral ceremony at Sharon’s ranch.

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