The Palestinian terror chief died in a Parisian hospital on November 11, 2004, after being taken there, visibly ill, from his Mukata compound in Ramallah. No cause of death was ever officially announced, and speculations—and allegations—have been rife.
Last week Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based Arabic media network, strongly implied on its website that Israel was the party responsible. It cited findings by theInstitute of Radiation Physics in Switzerland that Arafat’s clothing contained traces of lethal, radioactive polonium-210, and said only a state with a nuclear reactor could come up with such a substance. No one in the Middle East missed the allusion to Israel.
That prompted, in turn, a demand voiced on Al Jazeera TV by Arafat’s Paris-dwelling widow Suha Arafat, who once accused Israel of killing Palestinians with poison gas, to exhume Arafat’s body from his Mukata burial place—all in the interest of truth, of course.
In a further development, on Sunday Israel Hayom reported that Lebanese TV had shown a video, apparently filmed in 2006, in which
a Palestinian prisoner in [Israel’s] Ketziot prison is seen “interrogating” another Palestinian inmate who confesses that he was sent by Israel to kill[Arafat]. The prisoner claims…that, together with a group of Palestinian collaborators, he poisoned Arafat by putting toxic substances in his food while the Palestinian leader was barricaded in his Ramallah compound in 2004.
The video further alleged that
the prisoner was…recruited by Israeli security forces in 2002. After a series of training sessions at an Israel Defense Forces base, he said he and the other Palestinians were instructed to infiltrate…Arafat’s compound, where with the help of collaborators who were in charge of securing the building, they managed to convince one of the cooks to insert poison into the rice and soup served to Arafat.
The prisoner said the Israeli security forces paid him and the others a generous amount for poisoning Arafat, but also made clear that if they did not perform the task, they would be killed.
It’s true that, on April 5, 2004, then-Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon said he was “not vouching for [Arafat’s] physical safety” and added: “Whoever kills Jews or orders Jews and Israeli citizens to be killed … is a marked man.” By that time, while Israel was on the way to defeating the Arafat-led terror war, it was still raging with more than 130 Israelis killed that year.
Yet Israeli experts have cast grave doubt on the latest claims.
Regarding the polonium charges, Ely Karmon, a specialist in mass-destruction terrorism from Israel’s Interdisciplinary Center, “said that the half-life of the substance would make it impossible for polonium to have been discovered at such high levels if it had been used to kill Arafat eight years ago.”
Karmon added: “If it had been used for poisoning, minimal levels should be seen now. Yet much higher levels were found. Someone planted the polonium much later.”
Karmon also asked, in light of the fact that it was Suha Arafat who turned Arafat’s belongings over to the Swiss researchers: “If [she] safeguarded these contaminated materials, why, after seven years, was she not poisoned too?…”
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