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ARAFAT/ Al Jazeera revamps the mystery of his death

Al Jazeera is investigating the causes of the death of Arafat, and the results are shaken up the entire Middle East. FILIPPO LANDI comments on the reactions in Palestine and Israel

Palestinian boy with a photo of Arafat  (Infophoto) Palestinian boy with a photo of Arafat (Infophoto)

The results of Al Jazeera’s investigation have come down like a lightning bolt on the Middle East. The cause of Arafat’s death was a removed chapter, though never completely closed. Now everyone will have to somehow come to terms with the possibility that Arafat might have been killed by the radioactive material Polonium 210. This is the result of an investigation done by some journalists of Al Jazeera, supported by the consent of Arafat's wife, Suha, and certified by results from the laboratories of the Radiophysics Institute of the University of Lausanne. The clothing and personal belongings of Arafat, including his toothbrush, show “abnormal” traces of Polonium 210, said the director of the Institute.

Just a few hours were sufficient, after the announcement of the results of the investigation, to induce the President of the Palestinian Authority, Abu Mazen, to give the go-ahead to exhume the body of Arafat, as requested by his wife, Suha, in order to do further analyses, this time of the body of Arafat. An opposite choice, made ??for a quiet life, would have overwhelmed Abu Mazen with popular indignation and accusations of complicity with the possible murder of the Rais.

Tawfik Tirawi, an obscure name to an international audience, has also come forward, not surprisingly. He is an equally important Palestinian figure because he was head of the Palestine Commission that investigated the causes of Arafat’s death. He has now declared himself willing to supervise the exhumation of the body of Arafat and reminds everyone that his Commission had pointed out inconsistencies in the causes of death, but his investigation, he adds, was not given sufficient powers, also because of the Israeli occupation. Tirawi is going on the defensive to avoid being accused of covering up the true causes of Arafat’s death.

However, if the killing of Arafat is confirmed, it will not be possible for the Palestinians to manage such news alone. This explains the demand made by Saeb Erekat, one of the closest associates of Abu Mazen, for an international investigation commission, modeled on the one that investigated the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Al-Hariri. Lebanon, with its forces, would never have been able to investigate and prosecute members of the powerful Syrian secret service. In the same way, Erekat suggests, the Palestinians do not have the strength to look for those responsible for the death of Arafat within the Israeli secret service.