RAMALLAH: The body of the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat will be exhumed on Tuesday, eight years after his death, in an investigation to establish if he was murdered, a Palestinian official said yesterday.
A French court opened a murder inquiry in August into Arafat’s death in Paris after a Swiss institute said it had discovered high levels of radioactive polonium on his clothing, which was supplied by his widow, Suha.
Tawfiq Al-Tirawi, in charge of the Palestinian committee overseeing the investigation, told reporters in Ramallah yesterday “it is a painful necessity” to exhume the body.
Tirawi said the Palestinians had “evidence which suggests Arafat was assassinated by Israelis.”
The exhumation and renewed allegations of Israeli involvement could stir further tension between the Palestinians and Israel, which are observing a truce after a week of fierce fighting in Gaza. Any positive results for polonium could rekindle Palestinian hostility toward Israel and suspicions that a local collaborator may have poisoned him under directions from the Jewish state.
Rumors and speculation have surrounded Arafat’s death ever since a quick deterioration of his condition saw him pass away at the Percy military hospital in suburban Paris in November 2004 at the age of 75.