RAMALLAH, West Bank >> Swiss scientists have found evidence suggesting that Yasser Arafat may have been poisoned, adding new fuel to long-standing allegations about the Palestinian leader’s death, a TV station reported Wednesday.
Al-Jazeera published what it said was a long-awaited 108-page report by a team of Swiss experts who tested Arafat’s remains. The scientists wrote that “the results moderately support the proposition that the death was the consequence of poisoning with polonium-210,” according to the pan-Arab satellite channel.
Senior Palestinian officials repeatedly have alleged that Arafat was poisoned by Israel. The Israelis denied the allegations.
Raanan Gissin, a former Israeli government spokesman, reiterated Wednesday that Israel had no role.
“It was a government decision not to touch Arafat at all,” he said, adding that “if anyone poisoned him, it could have been someone from his close circle.”
Suha Arafat, the Palestinian leader’s widow, said she was shocked and saddened by the report’s findings.
In his final days “he was so ill, losing everything, his immunity. He was shrinking day by day,” she told Al-Jazeera. “It is a very, very, very sad day. It wounds the heart, and this wound, we cannot close it.”
She said the family had no autopsy at the time and wanted him buried quickly according to Muslim tradition.
A relative of Arafat also confirmed the report was authentic. He spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on the findings.
A Palestinian committee that has been investigating Arafat’s 2004 death also received a copy of the report, but declined comment. The head of the committee, Tawfik Tirawi, said details would be presented at a news conference in coming days.
Arafat died at a French hospital in 2004, but the cause of death has never been determined.
Last year, a Swiss lab discovered traces of polonium-210, a deadly radioactive isotope, on clothes provided by Arafat’s widow. More samples were subsequently taken from his remains in the West Bank.