The European Court of Human Rights last week refused to reopen a case claiming that former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat had been poisoned to death.
Arafat died in 2004 at the age of 75. After complaining of severe stomach pains, he was taken from his headquarters in Ramallah to a hospital outside of Paris, where he shorty after breathed his last.
The hospital and at least one other independent investigation determined that the iconic PLO leader had passed of natural causes.
But a 2012 investigation by a Swiss laboratory concluded that high levels of radioactive isotope known as polonium were found on Arafat’s clothing and remains. The same isotope had allegedly been used by Russian agents to assassinate a dissident in London.
This resulted in Arafat’s widow, Suha, filling a lawsuit over his wrongful death. But a French court quickly dismissed the suit, insisting that Suha and her lawyers had failed to provide compelling evidence that Arafat had been murdered.
On Thursday, the European Court of Human Rights upheld that earlier ruling, and dismissed Suha’s assertion that the French court had been “fundamentally biased” against her late husband.
Who did it?
Many Palestinians insist that Israel poisoned Arafat, charge that is still trotted out on occasion by the Palestinian Authority.
Polonium is very hard to obtain, but most assume it is not beyond the reach of Israel’s Mossad.
Even so, and even given Israel’s presumed motivation to be rid of Arafat, Suha herself is not saying that Israel did it.
In late December 2020, Israeli daily newspaper Yediot Ahronot quoted Suha as saying Arafat was “definitely poisoned, not by Israel, but by a Palestinian.”
Days later, Suha insisted that her quote had been taken out of context, but still did not point an accusing finger at Israel, at least not exclusively.
In a Facebook post at the time she explained:
“The case of Abu Ammar [Arafat’s nom de guerre] is still before the courts, and I cannot accuse anyone of killing him, including Israel, because I do not have any evidence, and I also do not have evidence against anyone so far.”