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Reason of Arafat's death remains unknown 16 years later

Palestinians hold posters and light candles as they commemorate the death of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on 11 November 2013 [Saeed Qaq/Apaimages ]
Palestinians hold posters and light candles as they commemorate the death of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on 11 November 2016 [Saeed Qaq/Apaimages ]

Sixteen years have now passed since PLO, Fatah and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat died and the reason behind his death remains unknown.

Born on 4 August 1929, Arafat passed away in a French hospital on 11 November 2004 after suffering symptoms of an unknown disease likely a result of poisoning while he was besieged inside his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

In a report, Arabi21 asked member of Fatah's International Relations Commissioner, Abdullah Abdullah, about the leader's death. Abdullah accused the late Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of being behind his death but claimed: "There is no clear evidence."

Regarding who served Arafat the poison, Abdullah claimed: "So far, we have not found clear evidence that indicts the real criminal."

Abdullah noted that Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia sent professional investigation teams who carried out tests. While Swiss and French teams exhumed Arafat's body and tested it and his clothes, "but we have not reached a clear-cut answer so far."

Meanwhile, Political Sciences Professor Hani Al-Basous accused the PA of not showing enough interest in the investigations.

READ: The Arab League and regional leaders will forget Arafat's warning at their peril

"It is possible that there is a kind of cooperation among PA officials in order not to reveal the outcomes of the investigations," stressing that PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his senior aide Tawfiq Al-Tirawi are behind this decision.

At the same time, he stated that Abbas threatened to identify Arafat's assassins. "This is a proof that he has information, but he is hiding this information from people," he said, stressing: "This is a big disaster because it hints that senior PA or Fatah officials, or political opponents are involved in the issue."

For his part, the political analyst Naji Shurrab told Arabi21 that there are pieces of information known by the French hospital and Palestinian officials, but nothing happened in this regard.

"This means that there is a conspiracy involving many components and revealing these components would shake the image of the Fatah movement," he said. "The anniversary [of Arafat's death] hides a compound crisis for Fatah, leadership and legitimacy," he said.

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