Was Yasser Arafat Poisoned To Death By Israel?

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What really happened
to 75 year-old Yasser Arafat in 2004 when he died?

Theories about his death abound, with many Palestinians
believing that his death was not natural and that he must have been poisoned
remotely by the Israelis.
Whatever may be the
cause of the death, Palestinian officials intend to put all speculations to
rest when they exhume Arafat’s body next Tuesday to verify whether Israel
actually poisoned
him with a Russian-produced radioactive isotope.
The controversial announcement
came as a group of international experts arrived in the West Bank city of
Ramallah to take samples of the remains of the iconic leader’s bones and
clothing for further study in European labs.

“The tomb will be
opened on (Tuesday) and experts will take samples the same day within a matter
of a few hours,” Tawfiq Tirawi told reporters in Ramallah.

He said a reburial
ceremony would be held with full military honours later the same day in
Arafat’s mausoleum at the heart of his Muqataa headquarters. Family members had
earlier indicated the exhumation would probably go ahead on Monday.
Tirawi did not
explain the apparent delay while stressing the procedure was painful but
necessary to establish the truth of allegations that Israel may have poisoned
the iconic Palestinian leader.
“November 27 will be
one of the most painful days of my life for personal reasons as as well as
patriotic, political and religious ones,” the Palestinian inquiry chief said.
“But it is necessary
in order to get to the painful truth behind Yasser Arafat’s death.”
Tirawi added that
members of his commission remained convinced that Israel had used the
radioactive element polonium to kill Arafat — the same poison used to
assassinate Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006.
“As patriotic
Palestinians, we remain convinced that the Israelis assassinated president
Arafat, and at the inquiry level, we have evidence leading in this direction,”
he said.
Rumours and
speculation have surrounded Arafat’s death ever since a quick deterioration of
his condition saw him pass away at the Percy military hospital in suburban
Paris in November 2004 at the age of 75.
French doctors were
unable to say what killed him and a post-mortem was never performed.
But many Palestinians
believed he was poisoned by Israel — a theory that gained ground in July when
Al-Jazeera reported Swiss findings showing abnormal quantities of the
radioactive substance polonium on Arafat’s personal effects.
France followed that
up in late August by opening a formal murder inquiry at his widow’s request.
The experts who will
be performing Tuesday’s operation under Palestinian command originate from
Switzerland and Russia. They will accompany three French criminal investigators
who will also be taking samples back home to Paris.
Tirawi said analysis
of the samples will be conducted in all three countries.
But he added that any
additional investigative work — including interviews with witnesses that may be
required by Paris investigators — will be conducted either by or in the
presence of Palestinian government representatives.
“All the testimonies
of the Palestinians must be collected by Palestinian prosecutors in the
presence of French investigators,” Tirawi said.

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