Daily Israel Report

Scientist: Too Early to Tell on Arafat Radiation Poisoning

Regardless of the polonium on his clothes, only an exhumation of Yasser Arafat will yield the truth about his death, a Swiss scientist said
By David Lev
First Publish: 7/5/2012, 9:48 AM

Yasser Arafat
Yasser Arafat
Flash90

It's too early to tell if Yasser Arafat died from radiation poisoning, said D'arsy Christian, a spokesperson for the Institute of Radiation Physics in Lausanne, Switzerland. In an interview with Army Radio, Christian said that the Institute, which found traces of polonium on the clothes of Yasser Arafat, would need to examine Arafat's body to determine whether or not the polonium killed him.

The discovery of the radioactive material came after Arafat's widow, Suha, transferred some of the Fatah terrorist leader's clothing for analysis, in preparation for a documentary. The Swiss lab detected small traces of polonium on Arafat's clothing, bringing to mind the death of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko. Litvinenko was killed in London in 2006 by polonium poisoning, after a small amount was added to his tea.

On Wednesday, the Palestinian Authority authorized an exhumation of Arafat's body, which is buried in Ramallah. At the time of his death, Suha Arafat refused to allow an autopsy on Yasser's body. Now, however, Suha Arafat is in favor of the exhumation and investigation, saying that she wanted to get to “the truth” of how her husband died. A PA spokesperson said that the Authority “is ready to cooperate in order to determine the real cause of death of Arafat.”

Christian said that the presence of polonium on Arafat's clothing does not prove that he was poisoned. “There may not have been polonium on the clothing eight years ago, when he died,” she said. “The only way to know if the polonium affected him is to take samples from his body.”