ISSN 2330-717X

Arafat’s Death: More Than Just A Medical Affair – OpEd


By Polina Chernitsa and Alexandra Dibizheva

On Wednesday, the Palestinian Authority conducted the exhumation of Yasser Arafat’s body after Al Jazeera voiced allegations that he had been poisoned with the radioactive element polonium-210. Palestine is prepared to cooperate with any country or organization to determine the true cause of the late president’s death.

Al Jazeera reporters have conducted a 9-month probe. Back in 2004, the tests of Arafat’s clothing and belongings which had been provided by his widow Suha had no traces of the radioactive element while more recent tests revealed the presence of some suspicious elements. These findings were sent to the Institut de Radiophysique in Lausanne, Switzerland, that detected elevated levels of the radioactive agent which exceeded the normal ten times. Polonium has a half-life of 138 days while it has been 8 years since Arafat died.

The substance was laboratory- made, professor Francois Bochud who led the test told Al Jazeera

Rumors about a possible poisoning emerged shortly after Arafat’s death. His personal doctor Egyptian Ibrahim Mustafa was the one who spread them but he refused to confirm the claims in an interview with Al Jazeera saying that secret services had banned him from commenting on this case.

Expert in Oriental Studies Nikolay Surkov offers his view of the situation.

“The doctor’s behavior proves that something is wrong here. Some speculation may result in pointing the finger at Israel as the latter had close intelligence ties with Egypt at that time. It could be that Egyptians were covering up their Israeli counterparts.”

Israel was involved in Arafat’s death, claims editor in chief of Palestine’s Ma’an news agency Nasr al-Lahham. Maybe Israel’s Mossad was assisted by Palestinian traitors as it was not easy to get close to the late leader.

“Rumors about a possible poisoning have two main sources – at first, the French media wrote about Israel’s special plans concerning Arafat. He received threats, some of them were coming from Ariel Sharon.”

“Moreover, Arafat himself told his aide that he had been poisoned. Before his death he was suffering from diarrhea but doctors failed to find the cause. At that time, Israel was strongly against bringing Arafat to Jordan for treatment. I think that Tel Aviv benefited Arafat’s death.”

Israel and its intelligence agency, the Mossad,couldn’t be reached for comments. It’s hard to say whether Israel had an interest in Arafat’s elimination, says expert Vladimir Sotnikov

“As far as Israel was concerned, Arafat was just an old man. Israelis were interested in other FATAH leaders, especially those with links to terrorists.”

The expert believes in the “Palestinian trace” – could have been done by Arafat’s rivals or even someone from his inner circle.

“If the poisoning version turns out to be true, I believe that Arafat could have been killed by Palestinians. He had more enemies than friends among Palestinians and his foes went as far as cooperating with Israel. His supporters could have also wanted his death as he wielded a lot of power and was a role model for young FATAH leaders. Some politicians probably did not want him to be a role model. By this is mere speculation.”

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VOR, or the Voice of Russia, was the Russian government's international radio broadcasting service from 1993 until 2014, when it was reorganised as Radio Sputnik.

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