Johannesburg -

The SA Zionist Federation sent condolences on Monday to the family of former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, who died at the weekend.

“They have lost an icon. Israel has lost one of its finest sons, and we and the Jewish world mourn with them,” the federation's chairman Avrom Krengel said in a statement on Monday.

“As a politician, he was known as 'the bulldozer', determined to achieve what he set out to do irrespective of criticism or condemnation, but above all, Sharon will be remembered as a pivotal figure in Israel's critical and fractured modern history.”

Sharon died in a hospital on Saturday at the age of 85. He had been in a coma since January 4, 2006, following a stroke.

Krengel described Sharon as a superb soldier and an outstanding general who had played crucial roles in four of Israel's wars.

“[He] was a complicated, yet creative man, who sought constantly to bring about peace with security, but who was not given enough of a lifespan to fulfil his dream.”

The French news agency Agence France-Press reported that Sharon would be buried on Monday in a ceremony at his family's Sycamore Ranch in the southern Negev desert, which lies a few miles from the northern border of the Gaza Strip.- Sapa