French: Arafat Was Not Poisoned

Thursday, December 05, 2013 |  Tommy Mueller

Forensic scientists from France have found no evidence that former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was poisoned, a conclusion many had already reached even before the French confirmed it.

However, a research group from Switzerland last month said it had found high levels of the chemical polonium in Arafat's remains.

Arafat died in a French hospital in 2004 after more than a month of severe stomach and digestive problems. At the time, French doctors were unable to provide a definitive cause of death, and were not allowed to perform an autopsy. Arafat was then hurriedly buried in Ramallah.

Arafat continues to be revered by Palestinians as a national symbol, and the anniversary of his death is marked as a national holiday, complete with violent demonstrations.

In 2012, the Palestinian leadership finally allowed Arafat's tomb to be opened and samples to be taken to determine how he died. However, results were surprisingly long in coming.

Arafat's widow, Suha - a Christian who lives in Paris - had always maintained that her husband was murdered by Israel. Following the release of the Swiss test results, Suha blabbed incessantly about the "crime of the century." But, Swiss experts immediately questioned the publicized test results, noting that polonium decays rapidly, and after so many years since his death, it should be barely, if at all, detectable on Arafat's corpse.

The French now have another explanation for the radioactive traces on Arafat's corpse: radon gas is believed to be emitted from somewhere near the tomb.

For the Palestinians, Israel has always been the "only suspect" in Arafat's demise. Israel repeatedly denied the charge, even though there was plenty of evidence that Arafat was directly involved in numerous terrorist attacks against the Jewish state.

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