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November 7, 2013 11:45 am

Israel Describes Allegations of Arafat Poisoning as ‘More Soap Opera Than Science’

avatar by Joshua Levitt

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Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, with former U.S. president Bill Clinton, and former PLO chairman Yasser Arafat. Photo: WikiCommons.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, with former U.S. president Bill Clinton, and former PLO chairman Yasser Arafat. Photo: WikiCommons.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor on Wednesday said Israel played no role in the death of former PLO leader Yassir Arafat, Reuters reported.

“This is more soap opera than science, it is the latest episode in the soap in which Suha opposes Arafat’s successors,” Palmor said, referring to Arafat’s widow and the grab for power that ensued after Arafat’s death.

Palmor told Reuters that the investigations into his demise amounted to “a highly superficial attempt to determine a cause of death,” noting that Arafat was already 75 years old and not well when he died.

Earlier, Raanan Gissin, a top aide to former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon at the time, said the premier had ordered explicitly that no harm be done to Arafat.

“Ariel Sharon insisted that everything be done to ensure that Arafat, who was at the time living inside his besieged Muqataa compound, was not killed by our soldiers,” Gissin told AFP.

Arafat fell ill in October 2004, displaying symptoms of acute gastroenteritis with diarrhea and vomiting, Reuters reported. Palestinian officials said he was suffering from influenza. He was flown to Paris in a French government plane but fell into a coma and died shortly after his arrival at the Percy military hospital. The official cause of death was a massive stroke, but French doctors said at the time they were unable to determine the origin of his illness. No autopsy was carried out.

On Wednesday, Arafat’s widow told Reuters that Swiss forensic tests showed he was poisoned to death with radioactive polonium, which must have been administered by someone “in his close circle” because experts had told her the poison would have been put in his coffee, tea or water.

An investigation by Al Jazeera last year said that traces of polonium-210 were found on personal effects of Arafat given to his widow. Professor David Barclay, a British forensic scientist retained by Al Jazeera to interpret the results of the Swiss tests, said the findings from Arafat’s body confirmed last year’s results from traces of bodily fluids on his underwear, toothbrush and clothing.

“In my opinion, it is absolutely certain that the cause of his illness was polonium poisoning,” Barclay told Reuters. “The levels present in him are sufficient to have caused death.”

Al Jazeera said the levels of polonium found in Arafat’s ribs, pelvis and in soil that absorbed his remains were at least 18 times higher than normal.

In 2006, two years later, radioactive polonium absorbed in a cup of tea in a London hotel was used to kill defecting Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko.

Barclay said the type of polonium discovered in Arafat’s body must have been manufactured in a nuclear reactor. While many countries could have been the source, someone in Arafat’s immediate entourage could have slipped a miniscule dose of the deadly isotope probably as a powder into his drink, food, eye drops or toothpaste, he said.

“A tiny amount of polonium the size of a flake of dandruff would be enough to kill 50 people if it was dissolved in water and they drank it,” he added.

The Al Jazeera investigation was spearheaded by investigative journalist Clayton Swisher, a former U.S. State Department Diplomatic Protection agent who became friendly with Arafat and was suspicious of the manner of his death, Reuters reported.

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  • by the way

    i doubt whether the one who is burried is Yasser Arafat.

  • Sandy Brown

    It is funny but basically I do not care a jot about what he died from. I wonder why that is?

  • It is obvious that this is indeed “soap opera”. The signs of radiation poisoning are unmistakeable and the most obvious is hair loss. If Arafat had been suffering from radiation poisoning, even a first year medical student would have noticed them when he was being treated in the Middle East, before being flown to Paris, to say nothing of afterwards. The physicians in France would have tested for poisons anyway, since he was such a prominent figure. Under French law, they are forbidden from revealing details of a patient’s medical history even if he is dead. Very convenient for Suha Arafat and the Palestinian leaders who want to create some sort of smokescreen to give them an excuse to withdraw from the peace talks.

  • shelly leibowitz


  • June Grant

    Despite Arafat’s wife keeping his underwear for years apparently for just such an investigation, and the latest pseudo scientific evaluation of the cause of his death, AIDS still seems the most likely answer, due to his lifestyle. It is also quite likely that his demise was hastened by members of his entourage.

  • Michael

    Arafat , The Polonium Blonde, who would have guessed?

  • Wallace Edward Brand

    He likely died of AIDS. IN his book Red Horizons, Major General Ion Pacepa, the highest ranking defector from the Soviet bloc said that Ceaucescu supplied young boys for Arafat when he visited Rumania and filmed his activities at night unbeknown to Arabfat in case the Soviet Union wanted to put some pressure on him.

    • How blind and naive we and the rest of the world has been. Political logic correctly denounces Israel as the perpetrator of Arafat’s death but of course it was the REAL IRA who did that dastardly deed–for shame.

      What a gaff!!

      Jack Cowan MD.

  • Fortune

    These are your choices:

    Arafat was old and sick;

    The Arafat family needs money and has to stir the pot;

    The Arafat family has been put up to this to assist in the failure of the so-called peace talks;

    Clayton Swisher is a former U.S. State Department Diplomatic Protection agent who befriended the Arafats; and,

    Clayton Swisher has an axe to grind and Al-Jazeera is the perfect vehicle.

    And then, after all, it is right before Chanukah, and what better gift from Mr. Arafat’s family to Israel than some meddling into local politics and G-d forbid causing some violence.

  • David Most

    It doesn’t matter one whit how Arafat died!

    Arabs love conspiracy theories and whatever this ridiculous exhumation analysis shows, Israel will be blamed by them. Things in the Middle East become farce very quickly.

    The sad thing is that the Europeans fall all over themselves trying to make the impossible become possible: the Palestinians want to believe YA was poisoned by Israel and will choose that theory NO MATTER the reality.

  • charlotte

    It is not possible that 210 Po was found after nearly 8 years unless it was recently put onto Arafat’s clothes and toothbrush. If Arafat was poisoned by Po 210 in 2004 or before,the only isotope detectable after 8 years is 209Po or 206Pb. If a very large amount was used then maybe yes there could possibly be traces of 210Po. Unless Uranium was used. Russia is the world’s biggest producer of polonium.

    But Arafat didn’t die like Litvienko (polonium poisoning in the UK) did with acute hairloss and signs of acute radiation poisoning. After 8 years the only detectable isotope of Po would be 209 Po. Also if they did radio imaging of any kind at that hospital in France, where doctors treated him, they would have been exposed as well and would possibly show signs of radiation poisoning after a short while. Remember the fuss with the cafe and seat in London where Litvienko was poisoned? It had to be decontaminated.

    AND the radiologists and radiographers at the hospital where he was treated (at any hospital’s imaging department for that matter), wear radiation dosimeters which are checked, I think, monthly for the amount of radiation they are exposed to. If Arafat had Po210 in his system then, the dosimeters of these staff members would have registered high readings and there would have been a massive outcry and an investigation launched as to the source.

    Here’s how Polonium 210 decays into several isotopes at specified times of half life as in this table:

    Isotope Atomic Mass Half-Life
    Po190 189.955 2 ms
    Po191 190.995 15.5 ms
    Po192 191.992 0.0332 seconds
    Po193 192.991 0.42 seconds
    Po194 193.988 0.392 seconds
    Po195 194.988 4.64 seconds
    Po196 195.986 5.8 seconds
    Po197 196.986 53.6 seconds
    Po198 197.983 1.77 minutes
    Po199 198.984 5.48 minutes
    Po200 199.982 11.5 minutes
    Po201 200.982 15.3 minutes
    Po202 201.981 44.7 minutes
    Po203 202.9814 36.7 minutes
    Po204 203.9803 3.53 hours
    Po205 204.9812 1.66 hours
    Po206 205.9805 8.8 days
    Po207 207.9816 5.80 hours
    Po208 207.9812 2.898 years
    Po209 208.9824 102 years
    Po210 209.9829 138.376 days
    Po211 210.9866 0.516 seconds
    Po212 211.9888 0.299 us
    Po213 212.9928 4.2 us
    Po214 213.9952 164.3 us
    Po215 214.9994 1.781 ms
    Po216 216.0019 0.145 seconds
    Po217 <10 seconds
    Po218 218.009 3.10 minutes

    Nuff said. This is a smear job by anti-semites in the EU and Arabs themselves. Probably someone threatened to release the REAL cause of death with evidence and tis was done to pre-empt that. The man died of AIDS.

  • In November, 2012, JewTube.Info reported that Dr. Roland Masse, radiopathologist at Paris’ Percy hospital which treated the dying Palestinian leader in 2004, had decried the exhumation of Yasser Arafat to test for poloium poisoning. He declared that “the symptoms of polonium poisoning would have been “impossible to miss,” noting that Percy had tested Arafat for radiation poisoning, and revealed that the hospital specializes in the related field of radiation detection. “A lethal level of polonium simply cannot go unnoticed,” he said, speaking as workers in Ramallah on Tuesday began the process of preparing Arafat’s grave for exhumation. On Oct 14, 2013, Russian News service Interfax earlier quoted FMBA (Russia’s Federal Medical-Biological Agency) head Vladimir Uiba as saying he did not believe the report published in British Medical Journal, The Lancet, over the weekend saying that Swiss radiation experts had found traces of polonium on Arafat’s clothing.
    “He could not have been poisoned by polonium,” Uiba told the Russian news agency. “The Russian experts who conducted the investigation did not find traces of this substance.”

    • spktruth

      Is there any question as to “who dun it”?

    • Lynne T

      Yes, but apparently the truth is absolutely of no interest to the newsroom at CBC Radio which is giving banner play to the allegations of Suha and members of the Fatah claque. I certainly don’t recall anything much being said over our public broadcaster about the 3 billion in EU aid that went missing over the last three years from PA coffers or how the government of starving Gaza found the resources to build a tunnel into Israel to facilitate terror attacks at an estimated cost of $22 million.

  • Does anyone know if they can trace the isotope to a specific reactor?

    • James Crozier

      Sometimes. And when it was produced approximately. Though that may be moot if there was no trace of the physical manifestation of polonium poisoning during the initial examination. The polonium could easily be salted on things, including his body, after death. This would seem most logical, and set only to upset things in an already unstable area.
      Besides Israel would probably wanted to keep Yasser alive since he was a moderate compared to Hamas and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard with their rockets.