As the controversies surround the death of former Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, the Palestinians mark nine years anniversary of Arafat’s death today.
A Swiss report published this week said specimens from Arafat’s exhumed body contained unexpectedly high levels of the radioactive element, polonium-210.
The Palestinian investigators said the report showed Arafat did not die because of old age or ill health, but was the victim of an “assassination”.
Israel’s government has dismissed any suggestion that it was involved.
The former president of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), Yasser Arafat died exactly nine years ago, precisely on November 11, 2004. Before his death, he had been the PNA president from 1996 and the long-time chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) from 1968.
Arafat was pronounced dead at 3:30 a.m. Universal Time Coordinated (UTC) on November 11 at the age of 75. The French doctors said his death was as a result of a massive hemorrhagic cerebrovascular accident, but could not confirm the underlying infection which they said was “unknown.”
Earlier before he died, first reports of treatment by his doctors for what his spokesman said was the “flu” came on October 25, 2004, after he vomited during a meeting. His condition deteriorated in the following days.
Following visits by other doctors, including teams from Tunisia, Jordan, and Egypt, Arafat was taken to France on a French government jet, and was admitted to the Hospital d’instruction des armees Percy in Clamart, a suburb of Paris.
On November 3, he had lapsed into a gradually deepening coma. Various sources speculated that Arafat was in coma or dead. However, Palestinian authorities and Arafat’s Jordanian doctor denied reports that Arafat was brain dead and had been kept on life support.
Thereafter, a controversy erupted between officials of the PNA and Arafat’s wife, Suha, when officials from the PNA travelled to France to see her husband. Suha stated in a media report: “They are trying to bury Abu Ammar (Arafat) alive.”
Since French law forbids physicians from discussing the condition of their patients with anybody with the exception, in case of grave prognosis, of close relatives, all communications concerning Arafat’s health had to be authorized by his wife.
Development that followed was the information given next day by chief surgeon, Christian Estripeau of Percy that Arafat’s condition had worsened, and that he had fallen into a deeper coma.
The head of the Islamic court of the Palestinian territories, Sheikh Taissir Tamimi, who held a vigil at Arafat’s bedside, visited Arafat and declared that it was out of the question to disconnect him from life support since, according to him; such an action is prohibited in Islam.
Arafat was later confirmed dead and immediately after the announcement, Palestinians went into a state of mourning, offering prayers in mosque, and tires were burned in the streets during protests.
Only last year, a follow-up medical report in a newly released medical records revealed that French doctors initially diagnosed Arafat with gastroenteritis against former pronouncement by French doctors who treated him that he died from a massive hemorrhagic cerebrovascular accident, although other people have offered different theories.