Arafat's death remembered amid poison rumours

2013-11-11 16:22
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

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Ramallah - Palestinians were on Monday marking the ninth anniversary of Yasser Arafat's death, days after Swiss experts said he may have died of radioactive poisoning, but that further investigation was needed.

Thousands marched in Jenin, Ramallah and other West Bank cities, carrying portraits of Arafat and Palestinian flags. A wreath-laying ceremony was planned at his tomb in central Ramallah later on Monday.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas earlier promised to uncover the truth of how Arafat died.

"It is our responsibility as the leadership of this great people to continue to search for the whole truth, whatever the complexities and obstacles," he said.

Abbas, who is abroad, spoke in a pre-recorded speech to a memorial event at the Ramallah Cultural Palace late on Sunday.

Traces of a radioactive substance

Arafat died on 11 November 2004, in a French hospital aged 75, after having led the Palestinian cause for some four decades.

A Swiss forensic report published last week, said that higher than expected traces of polonium-210 were found in some samples from Arafat's remains, after his body was exhumed in Ramallah in November 2012.

It said the findings "moderately support" the hypothesis that he was poisoned with the radioactive substance.

But they cautioned that the time that passed between Arafat's death and the analysis of his remains made it difficult to come to a definitive conclusion.

Polonium is highly toxic and rare. It occurs naturally only as a product of the radioactive decay of uranium.

Abbas' secular Fatah party said that its rival, the Islamist Hamas movement ruling Gaza, had prohibited rallies honouring Arafat from being held in the coastal enclave.

Hamas claimed that no rallies would be held in Gaza because Fatah refused to co-ordinate them with other factions.

Arafat was one of the founders of Fatah in the 1950s.

Read more on:    hamas  |  yasser arafat  |  mahmoud abbas  |  palestine

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