Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas says he is determined to go forward with an exhumation of the remains of Yasser Arafat for forensic tests following a controversial investigation by al Jazeera earlier this year.
According to reports, French investigators, Swiss experts and a Russian government team will take part in the probe following the November 26 exhumation of the former Palestinian leader, who died in France in 2004.
The original al Jazeera documentary on the subject, which reignited the controversy over Arafat’s death, was shown here in Australia for the first time on free-to-air channel ABC 24 this week.
Back in July, when the documentary first aired, AIJAC published a blog post pointing out obvious holes in al Jazeera‘s theories, quoting experts who concluded that radioactive residues on Arafat’s clothing were no proof of poisoning and in fact the levels detected were apparently incompatible with the conspiracy theories being put forward.
Another AIJAC blog post pointed out that many Palestinians have said that regardless of what the evidence may or may not show, they are certain Israel killed Arafat, and nothing will convince them otherwise.
This is, essentially, the reason Arafat’s sister and nephew have given the media for opposing the wishes of Abbas and Arafat’s wife Suha, to exhume Arafat’s body for the purposes of the investigation.
As Arafat’s nephew told the press:
“We say openly that our leader, our founder was assassinated by Israel with poison. The overwhelming majority of the Palestinian people is convinced of this,” Nasser al-Kidwa, Arafat’s nephew and a senior official in Abbas’s Fatah group, said on Saturday.
“Some have spread about the repugnant idea that Arafat’s tomb should be opened up and desecrated. There is no justification for this: we know the real truth,” he said.
Abbas, however, hinted the investigation was important for public relations reasons and not for justice.
“We hope for new facts that we can tell our people and the public,” al Jazeera reported the Palestinian leader saying on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the PA has once again rebroadcast a program commemorating the anniversary of Arafat’s death in which Palestinian youth also accuse “the Jews” of poisoning him, Palestinian Media Watch reported.
Notably, some admit they have no idea how he actually died, but remain convinced that “the Jews” are nonetheless responsible.
As they transcribed from the broadcast:
Ceremony host: “Blessings to Yasser Arafat, and here are messages from the children of Palestine.” [From 2009 PA ceremony, not part of PA TV 2010, 2011, 2012 broadcast, – Ed.]
Boy: “I was very, very sad when Arafat died as a Shahid (Martyr), because he was a good man and he was a fighter. He did things through struggle, he participated in the struggle and did not make peace and so on. He wanted to fight.”
Boy 2: “Yasser Arafat was a very, very important president. He stood up to all the enemies and was not afraid of anyone. And anyone who approached – he managed to stop him. All the Jews and the Israelis and the people who are against us, were afraid of him. When he died, he died of poisoning.”
Girl: “I say that he died from poisoning by the Jews. That’s what I say.”
Boy 3: “Arafat used to say: “They want me dead, they want me prisoner, but I say to them: Martyr! Martyr! Martyr!”
Girl 2: “He [Arafat] was our former president. He was under siege in Ramallah, and when he was under siege we were very upset. The Jews poisoned him and I hate them very much. Allah will repay them what they deserve.”
Boy 4: “He [Arafat] died from poisoning by the Jews. Well, I don’t know what he died from, but I know it was by the Jews.”
Boy 5: “They destroyed his whole house and he was left in one room and in the end the Jews poisoned him and blamed someone else.”
[PA TV (Fatah), Nov. 10, 2009 and 2010, Nov. 11, 2011 and 2012]