Al-Jazeera reports evidence of Arafat poisoning

A woman walks past a mural of Yasser Arafat near the West Bank city of Ramallah. Reuters

A team of Swiss scientists has found moderate evidence that longtime Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat died of poisoning, according to Arab satellite channel Al-Jazeera, which published a copy of what it said was the scientists’ report on its website.

This content was published on November 6, 2013 and agencies

The scientists from the Lausanne University Hospital’s Institute of Radiation Physics wrote that “the results moderately support the proposition that the death was the consequence of poisoning with polonium-210”.

The longtime Palestinian leader died aged 75 at a French hospital in 2004, but the cause of death has never been determined. No autopsy was carried out. Many Palestinians believe Israel poisoned Arafat, an allegation that Israel denies.

In July 2012, a Swiss lab, mandated by the Al Jazeera news network, announced it had found “surprisingly high” levels of polonium-210 in Arafat’s belongings given to his wife by the military hospital in Paris where he died.

Polonium disintegrates rapidly, and experts have cautioned that too much time may have passed to reach a conclusive result.

Around 60 samples were taken from the remains of the late Palestinian leader after he was exhumed from Ramallah in November last year for a probe into whether he was poisoned by polonium. The samples were divided between Swiss, Russian and French investigators carrying out a probe at the request of Arafat’s widow Suha.

Palestinian official Tawfik Tirawi confirmed that the Swiss scientists’ report was received on Tuesday in Geneva. He said the results would be studied before being made public.

‘Political assassination’

“We are revealing a real crime, a political assassination. This has confirmed all our doubts,” said Suha Arafat after the Swiss forensic team handed over its report to her lawyers and Palestinian officials in Geneva on Tuesday.

"It is scientifically proved that he didn't die a natural death and we have scientific proof that this man was killed."

She did not accuse any country or person, and acknowledged that the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization had many enemies, although she noted that Israel had branded him an obstacle to peace.

Arafat signed the 1993 Oslo interim peace accords with Israel and led a subsequent uprising after the failure of talks in 2000 on a comprehensive agreement.

In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

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