At the Ramallah Muqata’a press conference Friday morning, the Palestinian Committee Investigating the death of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said there’s no doubt Arafat was poisoned — but they don’t know what substance, exactly, was used to kill him.
The head of the Palestinian Investigation Committee Tawfik Tirawi said that two reports have now been received — one from Switerland and the other from Russia.
Tirawi said that both reports show that: 1.) “Abu Ammar” [Arafat] did not die from age, 2.) or from a disease, and 3.) it was not a natural death. “The reports provide scientific points” to support the argument, he said.
Dr. Abdullah Bashir, a Jordanian medical doctor originally hired by the Yasser Arafat Foundation, said that both reports concluded that Arafat had died of “illness as a result of a poisonous substance”.
But the Swiss + Russian labs + experts came to different conclusions about the Polonium they each found. Swiss conclusion: their test results “moderately support” the possibility of Polonium poisoning. But Russian experts concluded there’s not enough evidence.
Dr. Bashir told journalists that the Russian Federal Biomedical Agency had looked at their results, and compared them with the development of Arafat’s symptoms + illness, which resulted in the conclusion that there was not enough evidence to say that it was Polonium that had poisoned Arafat.
He said that both Swiss + Russian reports confirmed that Arafat’s illness and death had been caused by some “toxic substance” — which was either not examined at the French hospital in 2004 — or, if it was tested, the results have not been revealed.
Tirawi said, however, that “other toxic substances” were found in forensic testing of Arafat’s remains + “new facts” had been discovered that require more study. He did not identify them.
“We know our people need to know” about Arafat’s martyrdom, Tirawi said, and they “need and have a right to know the complete truth”. Tirawi reported the arrival of the two reports to Fatah’s powerful Central Committee [of which he is a member] on Thursday, and the Central Committee asked the Investigation Committee to give the press conference as soon as possible.
After the exhumation of Arafat’s body and the forensic sampling for testing in late November 2012, the samples were taken out of Ramallah and to Europe by French diplomatic valise, the Palestinian committee said in the press conference.
Dr Abdallah Bashir, head of the medical sub-committee of the Palestinian Investigation noted, twice, that French authorities were supposed to keep Arafat’s biological samples for 10 years, but didn’t.
Tawfik Tirawi, Chairman [Abbas-appointed] of the Palestinian Investigation Committee said, however: “the French hospital + French Government know the complete truth and all the details about the martyrdom of Yasser Arafat”.
This is one of the few points on which Tirawi and Al-Jazeera’s Clayton Swisher seem to agree.
Clayton Swisher @claytonswisher 7 Nov
French officials know what killed #Arafat [See here … via @Le_Figaro
The French know everything, Tirawi said suddenly, with intensity, but “Israeli is the basic + only one to be accused + we continue to investigate all details”.
He then waved a document that he said was a collection of all Israeli + even American statements about getting rid of and killing Arafat…
Tirawi said that he had been conducting his own investigation [away from the spotlight] for years, and had questioned hundreds of Palestinians + non-Palestinians inside + outside the occupied Palestinian territory. He seemed confident that his investigation will find the culprit[s], adding “we must find not only the substance but also the tool”.