Arafat took ill and died in November of 2004 at a military hospital in France
November 27, 2012 – On Tuesday, Palestinian authorities opened the grave of Yasser Arafat to foreign experts to take samples from the former PLO leader’s remains in an attempt to see if he was poisoned. Some of Arafat’s relatives and political successors have said the former leader was poisoned eight years ago to cause his death.
Before dawn, the exhumation had started behind huge blue tarpaulin sheets that had been draped across the top of Arafat’s mausoleum located in the former compound he once ruled in Ramallah a city in the West Bank.
Before mid-morning experts had their samples and the grave had been reclosed, a former intelligence chief, Tawfik Tirawi said, who is the Palestinian head of the investigation into the former leader’s death.
Arafat took ill and died in November of 2004 at a military hospital in France. His death came just one month after he suddenly became ill while in his compound in Ramallah, which at that time was overrun by Israeli troops. Doctors listed Arafat’s cause of death as a stroke however, it was unclear what the underlying reasons were and that led to a widespread belief by many in the Arab world that Arafat had been poisoned by the Israelis.
Israeli has said they had not involvement in the death of Arafat.
Eight years ago, at the time of his death, an investigation took place but lay dormant for a number of years. However, last summer it was revived when a lab in Switzerland said they detected elevated levels of polonium-210, a radioactive substance that is lethal, in the biological stains left on Arafat’s clothing.
The lab announced the tests to be inconclusive saying they must examine the former leader’s remains to find out more. Mahmoud Abbas, the successor to Arafat, authorized Arafat’s exhumation despite very strong religious and cultural taboos against anyone disturbing someone’s gravesite.