Arafat Poisoning Charge Put to Rest

Do we finally have an explanation for the mysterious 2004 death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat?

Sort of. An investigation in France into charges that Israel poisoned the 75-year-old has been closed. French authorities looking into the matter ruled there was “a lack of sufficient evidence” to proceed with an investigation or bring any charges.

A panel of three French judges had recommended that the case be dropped. Months later, in July 2015, prosecutors said they plan to dismiss the case.

Traces of polonium

Arafat died in a hospital near Paris after getting sick in the West Bank. Traces of radioactive polonium were found on his belongings. French experts ruled they were environmental in nature.

A medical report published after Arafat’s death listed the immediate cause as a massive brain hemorrhage resulting from an infection. Doctors ruled out foul play. Some sources say that Arafat died of AIDS. His family would not allow an autopsy.

Many Palestinians and others believe that Arafat was poisoned by Israel because he was an enemy and a threat to the Jewish state. Israel has denied any involvement.

Arafat won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 along with Israeli leaders Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin.

An attempt to solve the mystery of Arafat’s death began with the opening of his tomb in Ramallah after much discussion by Palestinian officials and Muslim religious leaders. Teams of French, Swiss and Russian investigators were allowed to collect samples.

Lawsuit filed by widow

A report by the University Centre of Legal Medicine in Lausanne, Switzerland, said the theory that Arafat was poisoned is most consistent with its findings. That report led to a lawsuit filed by Arafat’s widow, Suha.

Russian experts maintained that Arafat was not poisoned.

The French ruling may put the matter to rest once and for all, leaving only suspicions and speculation. Or there may be further scientific efforts to find an answer, maybe even with the help of new scientific knowledge that does not exist today.

Or new developments may come to light if people involved in his death, if there are such people, decide to talk about what they know.

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