Human Foreign Affairs
Palestinians eye Arafat autopsy after poison report.
A Swiss institute which examined clothing provided by Arafat’s widow Suha for a documentary by Qatar-based Al Jazeera television said its radiation protection experts had found “surprisingly” high levels of polonium-210, the same substance found to have killed a former Russian spy in London in 2006.
But it said symptoms described in the president’s medical reports were not consistent with the radioactive agent.
FINAL DAYS–Confined by Israel to his West Bank headquarters in Ramallah for three years after a Palestinian uprising erupted, an ailing Arafat collapsed in October 2004.
Foreign doctors flocked to his bedside from Tunisia, Egypt and Jordan amid public assurances from Arafat’s aides over the next two weeks that he was suffering from no more than the flu.
But looking weak and thin – and telling aides “God willing, I will be back” – he was airlifted to a military hospital in France, where he slipped into a coma and died on November 11, 2004.
At the time, rumors flew that he had died from anything from stomach cancer to poisoning to AIDS. French doctors who treated Arafat in his final days said they could not establish the cause of death. French officials, citing privacy laws, refused to give details of the nature of his illness.
Polonium, apparently ingested with food, was found to have caused the slow death of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006. At high doses, polonium-210 causes damage to organs and tissues. Britain tried and failed to extradite from Russia a suspect who was a former Kremlin security officer.
“MANY ENEMIES”–Pressed on the poisoning scenario, Dichter said: “Yasser Arafat had many enemies, domestically, abroad. But let them investigate … The Palestinians know well how to investigate what goes on in their house. Let them investigate and find out.”
A Hamas official, Salah Al-Bardaweel, called for an investigation, suggesting Palestinians might have helped Israel kill him, calling them “sinful hands that cooperated or facilitated the occupier’s mission to get these poisonous materials into the body of President Arafat”.
Regan said there could be several other explanations, such as naturally occurring radioactivity, for the high readings on Arafat’s clothing. He said all such “natural sources” must be ruled out before concluding polonium-210 was “a murder weapon”.
Suha Arafat, who lives in Malta and France and whose lavish lifestyle abroad has made her a controversial figure among Palestinians, said determining there had been a plot to kill her husband “will glorify more his legacy” and harden Palestinian resolve in any future negotiations with Israel.
Polonium poison is a favorite of the old KGB but then again the choice in poison could have been chosen for this exact reason.
There are multiple suspects and like a good whodunit story this may never really be solved.