by Stephen Lendman
On November 27, Arafat's body was exhumed. Samples were taken from his remains and surrounding soil. Tests are being conducted. International experts are involved.
Earlier evidence proved he died from radioactive polonium poisoning. Tests will check for all possible toxic substances.
Israel had motive and opportunity. Mossad and Shin Bet have long histories of targeted assassinations. They use poisons and other means. Ariel Sharon's government bears full responsibility.
Fourteen months earlier, then Israeli Vice Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Israeli radio after a cabinet meeting:
"How are we going to" remove Arafat? "Expulsion is certainly one of the options, and killing is also one of the options."
In July 2000, Arafat fell out of favor. Bill Clinton hosted him and then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak at Camp David.
Barak insisted Arafat sign a "final agreement" and declare an "end of conflict." Doing so would have renounced any legal claim to Palestine land.
Nothing was put in writing. No documents or maps were presented. Barak wanted Palestinian land divided into four isolated bantustans surrounded by expanding settlements and other Israeli controlled territory.
He offered terms no responsible leader would accept. He demanded unconditional surrender. Arafat refused and was unfairly blamed. It very likely led to his death by assassination.
On September 29, 2000, a second Intifada erupted. Sharon provoked it. On September 28, accompanied by 1,000 Israeli troops and police, he staged a provocative visit to Islam's third holiest site - the Haram al-Sharif sacred shrine and Al-Aqsa Mosque.
A cycle of violence followed. Jenin perhaps was most affected. In April 2002, its refugee camp was attacked.
Hundreds of buildings were destroyed. Palestinians were buried under rubble. Water and power were cut off. Food, medical aid, and other essentials were kept out. Unknown numbers of civilian men, women and children were slaughtered in cold blood.
IDF violence targeted other areas. Palestinians never had a chance. When the five-year Intifada ended, 4,166 Palestinians died. Among them were 886 children and 271 women.
Thousands more were injured or disabled. Hundreds of targeted assassinations occurred. Thousands were imprisoned, including 288 children and 115 women.
Another 2,329,659 dunums of Palestinian land were stolen, thousands more razed, and over 1.3 million trees uprooted. Nearly 7,800 homes were demolished. Another 98,800 were damaged.
Israeli crimes were extreme. Palestinian victims were blamed. Israel called it self-defense. Arafat was targeted. His failure to surrender at Camp David cost him his life.
In March 2002, Israel lay siege to his Ramallah (Mukataa) compound. It continued until May. Troops surrounded it. Tanks and armored vehicles smashed through walls.
Palestinian intelligence headquarters was shelled. Heavy damage was inflicted. Troops stormed a facility adjacent to Arafat's compound.
He and close aides took refuge on a lower floor. His security guards and IDF forces exchanged fire. At least five Palestinians were killed. Two dozen or more were wounded.
Power and phone lines were cut. Arafat was totally isolated. Israeli snipers shot anyone trying to leave his compound. Israeli troops and tanks let no one in or out.
Talk surfaced about Sharon wanting Arafat killed. It was more than talk. His spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, said his "life is in danger."
Arafat made contact with Arab leaders. He told Al Jazeera, "They either want to kill me, capture me, or expel me, but I tell them I'd rather be martyred."
He accused Israel of terrorizing Palestinians and wanting to scuttle peace efforts. Sharon mobilized reservists. He deployed thousands of troops across the West Bank. Villages and refugee camps were raided.
Gun battles broke out in Ramallah and other West Bank cities. Dozens of Palestinians were killed, injured or arrested.
Defense Minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer declared Ramallah the "capital of terror." Military operations would continue, he said. "Nobody is immune to the armed forces as long as that person is labeled a terrorist."
The IDF was told to "strike everywhere." Destroy "terrorist infrastructure."
"Restraint is dead," added Eliezer. Arafat's days were numbered. He was a marked man. Israel decided to murder him.
Two previous articles explained. One written on January 2, 2007 headlined "Former Longtime Confident Accuses Ariel Sharon of Assassinating Yasser Arafat."
Uri Dan's 2006 book titled "Ariel Sharon: An Intimate Portrait" told what he knew. In 2004, Sharon informed George Bush. He also wanted Arafat removed. He was isolated in his compound. Israel destroyed most of it.
On November 11, 2004, Arafat died in Paris. He was 75. In early October he took ill. On October 29, he was flown to France's Percy Military Hospital. Doctors examining him couldn't diagnose his illness.
On November 3, he slipped into a coma. Eight days later he was dead. French doctors prepared a 558-page report. They claimed death from blood disorder complications.
They likely concealed what they knew. They described what they called "disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC)." It causes malignancy and infection, they said.
They claimed his blood vessels exhibited small clots. They deplete platelets and clotting factors needed to control bleeding. It can cause death by hemorrhaging.
They also called DIC a secondary condition. In other words, it wasn't the main cause of his illness or death. Something else was responsible. That issue was left unanswered.
Arafat's personal physician, Dr. Ashraf Al Kurdi, believed very likely he was poisoned. At the time, nothing was done to confirm it. Kurdi said Abbas blocked an autopsy. He had coverup in mind.
"They didn't want to do it," said Kurdi. "When you talked to them about an autopsy they would get fits. (Abbas) said it would disturb relations with France."
In suspected criminal cases, autopsies are automatic. Given the strong possibility that Arafat was poisoned, failure to determine cause of death was unconscionable.
In August 2007, Haaretz headlined "Arafat's doctor: There was HIV in his blood, but poison killed him," saying:
Kurdi said "the virus had been injected into (his) bloodstream close to his death, and that the real cause of (his) death was poison."
Kurdi was Arafat's personal physician for 18 years. He explained that he'd "usually be summoned to attend to (him) immediately, even when all he had was a simple cold."
"But when his medical situation was really deteriorating, they chose not to call me at all." He was denied access to his body after he died. He wanted France to set up an inquiry commission.
On September 9, 2005, he said "any doctor would tell you that (Arafat's condition exhibited) symptoms of poisoning."
Haaretz added that "Arab journalists and opinion-shapers have repeatedly accused Israel under former prime minister Ariel Sharon of poisoning Arafat."
On July 4, Al Jazeera headlined "Arafat's widow (Suha) calls to exhume his body," saying:
"A nine-month investigation suggests that the late Palestinian leader may have been poisoned with polonium."
"Eight years after his death, it remains a mystery exactly what killed the longtime Palestinian leader."
"Tests conducted in Paris found no obvious traces of poison in Arafat's system. Rumors abound about what might have killed him – cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, even allegations that he was infected with HIV."
"A nine-month investigation by Al Jazeera has revealed that none of those rumors were true: Arafat was in good health until he suddenly fell ill on October 12, 2004."
Arafat's personal belongings showed traces of deadly polonium. Science Daily calls it "around 109 times" more toxic than hydrogen cyanide. Its main hazard is radioactivity. It's "most lethal when ingested" or inhaled.
Switzerland's Radiophysique (SR) analyzed Arafat's belongings. Blood, sweat, saliva and urine samples were obtained. Tests showed abnormal polonium levels in his body when he died.
SR director Dr. Francois Bochud said:
"I can confirm to you that we measured an unexplained, elevated amount of unsupported polonium-210 in the belongings of Mr. Arafat that contained stains of biological fluids."
SR scientists said further tests "concluded that....between 60 to 80 percent (of the polonium) was 'unsupported.' " It didn't come from natural sources.
Arafat's widow, Suha, asked Palestinian Authority (PA) officials to exhume his body. If bone, tissue, and/or other bodily evidence substantiates SR's diagnosis, poisoning will be confirmed.
On November 27, Al Jazeera headlined "Yasser Arafat's body exhumed in Ramallah," saying:
International experts conducted 10 hours of tests. They'll be shipped overseas for analysis. Jordanian doctor Abdullah Bashir was involved.
About 20 samples were obtained, he said. "We have asked (international teams) to test for all poisons, not only for polonium."
PA officials imposed "a near-media blackout." Arafat family members and lawyers representing his widow, Suha, were excluded from attending his exhumation. No reason was given.
Experts examining samples include a French toxicologist, pathologist, and legal medicine generalist. Switzerland's Radiophysique (SR) is part of the investigation. Russian experts will conduct their own independent analysis.
Al Jazeera said if polonium killed Arafat, "very little….will remain at this point. Polonium-210, the isotope found on (his) personal effects, has a half-life of 138 days."
It means half the substances decays "every four-and-a-half months. Scientists say that eight years is about the limit for recovering a useful sample, and a longer delay would have made it impossible to recover a workable sample."
Tests will take months before findings are announced.
Natural polonium "replenishes itself after decaying." Unsupported polonium from unnatural sources does not.
When results are known, French courts will decide what's next. Arafat died in Paris. France maintains legal jurisdiction.
Earlier this year, Suha requested a murder investigation. In August, it was approved. French judges began "collecting Arafat's medical records and other evidence." Efforts are proceeding quietly.
Al Jazeera said PA security officers harassed their reporters. They tailed them "in cars and on foot, and at one point broke into the network's hotel rooms."
Abbas is a longtime Israeli collaborator. He may have coverup in mind. He originally blocked an autopsy. Arafat was buried suspiciously fast. It doesn't happen when foul play is suspected.
On November 27, Maan News said PA officials "will start legal proceedings against Israel at the (ICC) if forensic tests prove (Arafat) was murdered." Chief investigator Tawfiq Tirawi said:
"We have evidence and indications that (Arafat) was killed, including remarks by Israeli leaders that they must get rid of Arafat, but we need evidence to submit to the International Criminal Court."
Foul play was suspected all along. Clear evidence is hard to deny. At the same time, responsibility may be hard to prove.
Israel will go all-out to prevent it. Washington will help. Expect Abbas to be party to coverup. Longtime collaborators don't turn a page. They don't reinvent themselves honorably as saints.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.