Jerusalem Prime Minister Ariel Sharon briefly opened his eyes Monday in response to a recording of his grandson's voice, relatives told doctors, though hospital officials warned there were no signs that the comatose Israeli leader was any closer to regaining consciousness.
With Sharon still incapacitated 12 days after a massive stroke, Monday's media excitement over the reported eye movements showed how even the slightest change in his condition is capturing the nation's attention.
The 77-year-old prime minister has been lying unconscious at Hadassah Hospital since the Jan. 4 stroke. Although doctors say his condition remains "critical but stable," outside experts have said Sharon's failure to regain consciousness in recent days bodes poorly for his recovery.
Monday's reports seemed to spark hopes that Sharon, perhaps the country's ultimate political survivor, would prove the experts wrong again. After scaling back coverage of his condition in recent days, TV newscasts and radio programming eagerly reported the latest developments.
Israel TV said the prime minister opened his eyes as his son, Gilad, sat at his bedside playing a tape recording of Sharon's grandson. A Sharon aide in touch with the family said the report was accurate. The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not at Sharon's bedside at the time.
The Yediot Ahronot newspaper reported on its Web site that Sharon opened his eyes twice, becoming teary at the sound of his grandson's voice. It said Sharon closed his eyes before doctors reached his room.