'Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was
Yasser Arafat, who died in 2004, was poisoned by polonium,
according to the findings of laboratory research carried out in
Switzerland and cited in an Al-Jazeera report on Tuesday. The
analysis focused on biological samples taken from
After the claim made by the Al Jazeera that Yasser Arafat had not
died due to natural death but was poisoned by polonium, a rare and
highly radioactive element, his widow Suha Aarafat on Wednesday
called to exhume her late husband’s body from its grave in
Ramallah for further probe.
“I know the Palestinian Authority
has been trying to discover what Yasser died from,” Al Jazeera
quoted Suha Arafat as saying in an interview.
“And now we are helping them. We
have very substantial, very important results", she added.
At the time of his death at the age of 75, Palestinian officials
charged he had been poisoned by longtime foe Israel, but an
inconclusive Palestinian investigation in 2005 ruled out cancer,
AIDS or poisoning.
To confirm the theory that he was poisoned by polonium it would be
necessary to exhume and analyze Arafat’s remains, Dr. Francois
Bochud, the director of the institute which carried the probe said.
“If (Suha Arafat) really wants to know what happened to her
husband (we need) to find a sample — I mean, an exhumation...
should provide us with a sample that should have a very high
quantity of polonium if he was poisoned,” he said.
Stating that Arafat was in good
health until he suddenly fell ill on October 12, 2004, Al Jazeera
claimed, "Tests reveal that Arafat’s final personal belongings –
his clothes, his toothbrush, even his iconic kaffiyeh – contained
abnormal levels of polonium, a rare, highly radioactive element."
The institute studied Arafat’s
personal effects, which his widow provided to Al Jazeera, the
first time they had been examined by a laboratory. Doctors did not
find any traces of common heavy metals or conventional poisons, so
they turned their attention to more obscure elements, including
The analysis focused on biological samples taken from the late
Palestinian leader’s belongings given to his wife Suha by the
military hospital in Paris where he died, according to Francois
Bochud, head of the Institute of Radiation Physics at the
University of Lausanne.
“The conclusion was that we did find some significant polonium
that was present in these samples,” Bochud told Al-Jazeera.
Polonium was used to kill Russian former spy turned Kremlin critic
Alexander Litvinenko, who died in 2006 after drinking tea laced
with the radioactive substance at a London hotel.
Arafat, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who led the struggle for
Palestinian statehood for nearly four decades, died on November
11, 2004, following several weeks of treatment.
He had been airlifted to France from his besieged headquarters in
the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
French officials, citing privacy laws, refused to reveal the
precise cause of death or the nature of his condition, fueling a
host of rumors and theories as to the cause of his illness.