For the past nine months the channel Al-Jazeera has led an investigation into the former Palestinian leader’s mysterious death with increasingly troubling results.
The Institut de Radiophysique in Lausanne, Switzerland revealed that they found high levels of polonium, a rare, highly radioactive element on his personal belongings.
Polonium is considered to be a metal, which has very few applications; however its main hazard is its radioactivity. By mass, polonium-210 is around 250,000 times more toxic than hydrogen cyanide.
Traces of this compound were detected on his clothes, toothbrush and even his iconic kaffiyeh, the traditional Arab headdress.
The true cause behind the death of Yasser Arafat had always remained enigmatic. The leader of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) fell extremely ill on October 2004; he was then flown to a French military hospital in Paris where he was pronounced dead on the 11th of November 2004, at the age of 75.
The hospital later revealed that it was ‘due to a stroke that resulted from a bleeding disorder caused by an unknown infection’ following a review of the records obtained by the New York Times.
His wife, Suha Arafat, has confirmed to Al-Jazeera her support of the on-going investigation, adding: “We have to go further and exhume Yasser Arafat's body to reveal the truth to the Muslim and Arab world."
An exhumation of the body would be all-important due to the limitation of items or biological samples available for analysis which belonged to the first president of the Palestinian Authority.
Accordingly, with the emerging news of Arafat’s possible murder, there is still no answer as to who might have been the culprit.
However, Israel’s stance in the matter also raises new speculations due to their long standing conflict, but also due to the composition of the polonium-210, which is not naturally sourced and requires a nuclear reactor.
The fatal chemical element is considered to have caused the death of Russian ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko who died in London in 2006; he was believed to be helping the British secret services.