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Arafat death: Blinding smoke of the murderer

English | العربية

Mohammad Fadhel Al Obaidly

Advisor, Public Opinion Research Center

Tag: United Arab Emirates
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On November 6, 2013, a team of Swiss physicians announced that the medical tests conducted on samples from the remains of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat showed the presence of a high dosage of radioactive Polonium 210.
Soon after, on November 8, an article by Mark Perry titled A Martyr Unmartyred was published on the website of Foreign Policy magazine. Based on what he claimed was a chat in Amman in the summer of 2007 with Hani Al Hassan a veteran Palestine Liberation Organisation official and a close aide of Arafat for decades Perry presented many hypotheses about who the murderer of Arafat was. According to him the list of possible suspects includes a group of Arafats closest associates, the Israeli Mossad and operatives sent by Syrias Al Assad clan and last but not least the CIA. The writer dropped those suspects as questions to Al Hassan and Al Hassans answers gave justifications for each. So, responding to the first question, Perry quoted Al Hassan as saying sure and adding they did it and then they did the impossible, they kept it a secret. As for the Israeli Mossad, the answer was: The Israelis wanted him alive. So theyd have an excuse for refusing to deal with us. And about the Syrians, Perry quoted Al Hassan as saying: The son is not the father, adding and even Hafez cant operate from beyond the grave. Finally, as for the CIA, the answer was it would already be on the front page of the Washington Post [1].
Reading this article leads to one conclusion: Israelis didnt do it. And the justification (according to Perry) came from the lips of a Palestinian official. Is this what the writer wants us to believe?
Well, Arafat died in November 2004 and negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians did not move an inch for nine years after his death if we have to believe that he was the main obstacle in any deal.

While logic demands examining all hypotheses about such a historical incident, it seems that the writer forgot an important if not vital answer to his question. The most decisive and unequivocal answers about Israeli involvement came from Gordon Thomas, the British specialist, in his book on the history of Mossad, called Gideons Spies. The book, known also as Spies in the Sands, was first published in 2001 and in 2008 Thomas brought out an updated version devoting an entire chapter to the assassination of Arafat. He explained in detail how the Mossad poisoned Arafat when they came to know about one of his favourite meals a soup made from a herb grown in Palestine. According to Thomas, Mossad reached a Palestinian merchant who used to provide Arafats headquarters (Muqataa) with this herb and injected the poison in a shipment of this herb that was sent to Arafats headquarters in Ramallah.
When I finished reading Perrys article, I wondered: Why would a writer miss reading a book directly tackling the issue? The book has been on the market since 2008. Coming in November 2013 to talk about a chat that took place in 2007 gives one implicit answer: Israelis didnt do it.
Perry was not the only one who ignored Thomass theory about Israeli involvement. The Daily Telegraph did the same on November 7 in a commentary written by Con Coughlin, suggesting that even if Arafat was poisoned, there is a long list of suspects. He concluded that Arafat had become old and his health had deteriorated, adding that all this could have caused his death [2]. Again the same implicit answer: Israelis didnt do it.
While Coughlin gave a passing mention to Polonium 210 Perry did not mention it at all, although it is now the major evidence in the whole issue of Arafats death. For Perry it was as if he had never heard about it. According to scientists there are two sources of Polonium 210 nature, and its called supported; and from a nuclear reactor, which is called unsupported. Surprisingly, the Swiss physicians revealed in a documentary screened by Al Jazeera that the one which was found in Arafats remains was unsupported. Furthermore, the dosage was exactly the same as that which caused the death of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006.
Thomas was wondering in his book: Did Meir Dagan (chief of Mossad) dare what his predecessors rejected and authorise a reckless operation to assassinate Yasser Arafat? He ended that chapter on the assassination, referring to what Dagan had told one of his assistants: The only tragedy in Arafats death is that it didnt happen earlier because he failed to give up his gun.
In their quick response, the two writers ignored the main and only solid theory about the involvement of Israelis in the assassination of Arafat and instead came out with stories promoting one implicit answer whitewashing Israel and diverting attention towards Arabs. Such a reaction is just an attempt to raise a blinding smoke, but inadvertently, they are just pointing to the real murderer.

Originally Published in Gulf News November 19, 2013


[1] Read Michael Perry "Martyr Unmartyred" on the Foreign Policy website through this link:


[2] Refer to: Con Coughlin: " If Yasser Arafat was poisoned with polonium-210, theres a long list of suspects. Link:

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