Yasser Arafat’s Tomb: Top 10 Facts You Need to Know

Yasser Arafat's Tomb

It has long been suspected that former Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat had been murdered. Now, his body is going to exhumed on Tuesday to determine if he had been poisoned. Here’s what you need to know:

1. This Will Finally Settle If Yasser Arafat Was Poisoned With Polonium

Ever since Arafat first passed in Paris in 2004, there have been rumors that he had been poisoned. There is reason to believe that if he was poisoned it was the radioactive element, polonium-210. This will hopefully clear up all questions about his death, however there is good reason to believe that it is impossible to get a valid conclusion eight years after the fact when polonium’s half-life is only five months.

2. Polonium Has Been Used In Political Assassinations Before

In 2006, polonium-210 was used to kill Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB agent who became a whistle-blower on the KGB’s successor agency FSB. Litvinenko claimed that Vladimir Putin was responsible for his death.

3. Several Nations Will Offer Independent Analysis

After Arafat’s body is exhumed, French, Swiss, and Russian forensic experts will each take a sample for independent analysis. All the experts will take the samples back to their own countries for examination. It is possible that they reach different conclusions and that they reach them at different times.

4. Palestinians Requested Russia Get Involved

Tawfiq Tirawi, the head of the Palestinian investigation committee, asked the Russians to get involved. He claimed it was because of the historical relationship between the Palestinians and Russia. Although, it seems more like the Palestinians don’t fully trust France and Switzerland.

5. This Study Is The Result Of A French Investigation

The reason the French are involved is that this exhuming is the result of a French investigation into Arafat’s death (he died in Paris) after Swiss experts (why the Swiss are involved) discovered traces of polonium-210 on a number of Arafat’s personal effects. Arafat’s items, such as his toothbrush and his iconic keffiyeh headdress, had levels up to ten times higher than the control.

6. It Will Be An Emotional Experience For Palestinians

Many Palestinians still view Arafat as a heroic figure. Having his body exhumed will be emotional. It will also mean a lot because many already believe he had been murdered and this is an opportunity to be proven correct.

Arafat will be reburied in a military ceremony on the same day that he’s exhumed.

7. If Arafat Was Poisoned, Palestinians Will Likely Blame Israel

If any of the tests come back suggesting that Arafat was poisoned, Palestinians will likely blame Israel. Many already believe Israel to be responsible for his death. Any confirmation will likely inflame passions that don’t need any flaming after the recent bombing of Gaza.

To be fair, if Arafat was indeed poisoned, Israel is very likely responsible for his death. Israel has been linked to many assassinations over the years, most recently of Iranian scientists.

8. Arafat’s Death Was Originally Ruled A Stroke

When Arafat died in 2004, his death was determined to have resulted from a massive hemorrhagic stroke that was caused by a bleeding disorder that was created by an unknown infection. The New York Times obtained Arafat’s medical records in 2005 and independent experts determined that it was extremely unlikely Arafat has been poisoned or had AIDS (another rumor that has floated around).

9. Mahmoud Abbas Approved The Exhuming

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas approved the exhuming of Arafat’s body from the mausoleum at the request of Arafat’s widow, Suha Arafat. She lodged a formal legal complaint for his murder.

10. This Likely Won’t Solve Anything

As stated earlier, it’s unlikely that these analyses will be able to come to any valid conclusions about Arafat’s death. It’s also possible that the several analyses will disagree with one another.

What is likely is that both sides will claim with certainty that this is proof of whatever they believe and people will be hurt and angry in a region that definitely doesn’t need it. In the end, we likely won’t have any solid conclusions, but will likely see the strengthening of extremists in the region.

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